Change routines for better results

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Auto-pilot, coasting, living the unexamined life … It all seems so easy.
But what are you sacrificing by taking the road more traveled?
If you’ve ever found yourself explaining away a behavior by saying things like, “That’s just the way I do it, I don’t know why” or “Everybody does it that way,” you’ve likely fallen victim to the dreaded “ineffective routine.”
Some examples (and their consequences) lurk just out of sight in our every day life. Maybe you eat out three times a week only to finish the first three-quarters of it before tossing it away or upping it to the large combo because it’s “a better value.” Or maybe you debt-finance purchases that could reasonably be waited on, telling yourself, “Well, I can afford the monthly payments.”
These two ineffective routines are financial in nature, but their consequences could be further-reaching: If you cut your fast food intake down to once a week and instead eat at home, you could save yourself the stress of gaining weight or feeling sluggish as well as put as much as a few hundred extra dollars in your wallet every year. As college students whose general complaints are a lack of money and an excess of weight, this is a simple routine to break out of in order to be happier and more successful.
And what about that debt-financing? Well, let me put it in a simple way: There’s something you want that costs $500 and you don’t want to wait for it so you put it on your handy credit card. Let’s say that card has an interest rate of 15 percent. If you make a minimum payment of $30 a month, it will take you 19 months to pay that purchase off. You’ll also be paying about $70 more than if you had simply pooled your money for a few months, scrimping and saving until you were able to buy your cool new thing outright. Break that routine or that cool new thing will own you for 19 months before you ever truly own it.
Let me break this down into even simpler terms: If you do things the way that “everybody” does them, you’ll get the results “everybody” gets. If that doesn’t sit right with you, I challenge you to examine the aspects of your life where you’re currently on auto-pilot. Common examples include:
  • Not reading through bank statements (which can frequently have errors of at least a few dollars).
  • Always spending money on dates. Cheap or free date ideas can be the most fun.
  • Spending hours daily on time wasters like Facebook and Netflix, all while complaining there isn’t enough time to finish this assignment or that paper.
  • Always having to get the biggest or best or newest thing out there. The people you’re trying to impress probably don’t really care anyway.
While examples abound, the most powerful ones will be the routines you identify in your life. What task are you mindlessly doing that would be benefited by using just a titch more brain power? Find it, change it and note the difference.