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6 Steps For Making Financial Changes Stick

By newadmin / Published on Thursday, 01 Feb 2018 02:36 AM / No Comments / 7 views


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Have you vowed to stick to a budget, and ultimately&nbsp;faltered?&nbsp;Did you ever promise yourself — or someone else — you’d spend less and save more only to&nbsp;eventually not follow through and&nbsp;become disappointed in the end?

These kinds of repeated promises and eventual lapses are common for&nbsp;most of us at one time or another. And in fact, lacking a specific plan, the results should come as no surprise, according to Dr. John C. Norcross, whose extensive research has examined what leads to lasting change and shows how general, hazy wishes rarely work.

Virtually no one has had scientific education in how to change — I’ve always wanted to do this study just walk around an office building and say, ‘How do you learn to change your behavior? And of course they’ll give you the puzzled quizzical look and they may say, ‘Well I guess I watched my parents, maybe Dr. Phil, I took a motivational seminar,” he says. “People have largely been on their own and their models and the lessons they’ve acquired have frequently not been factual.”

So what can work? Here are&nbsp;six steps Norcross, distinguished professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, identifies as “crucial” to making lasting change — financial and otherwise once you are ready to start:

  1. Develop healthy alternatives and practice new skills

In the case of budgeting, actually create a plan to review your actual spending and develop a budget. “A budget isn’t real unless it’s discussed or written down,” Norcross says. “I guarantee you most people who made that financial resolution this year either did not write down a budget or are blissfully unaware of what they spend where.” (More techniques to save more and spend less by applying concepts from behavioral economics are here.)

  1. Environmental control — rearrange your environment to help and not hurt

If you’re worried about spending, avoid tempting settings&nbsp;such as stores, malls or online shopping sites.

  1. Nurture helping relationships

Spread the word with supportive people who will help you stick to your plan to spend less, perhaps finding like-minded budget-conscious friends who may be more judicious with you. At the same time, avoid those “people, places and things that hurt,” Norcross says.

  1. Relapse prevention

Norcross reminds a slip need not become a fall. “The thought immediately occurs ‘I have failed, I cannot do this,” Norcross says of how a slip often leads to cognitive and emotional mistakes. If a patient says, “I slipped once,’ and I point to that and say that means in 40 days you had 39 perfect days and one slip and now you want me to believe you’re emotionally a fraud and intellectually incapable of this?’” he says. “When you say that out loud you almost embarrass the patient.”

  1. Rewards

Even small rewards, such as watching your account balances grow can help spur you on — identify what motivates you.&nbsp;Alternately,&nbsp;create a contingency contract — for instance if you stay within your budget each week, treat yourself maybe it’s movie night or eating out.

“Successful resolvers use way more rewards strategy than people who failed,” Norcross says.

  1. Perseverance

“This is a marathon,” Norcross reminds. And as for perseverance? “That’s not just a personality trait,” he says.&nbsp;“It’s a particular thinking skill.”

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Shutterstock

Have you vowed to stick to a budget, and ultimately faltered? Did you ever promise yourself — or someone else — you’d spend less and save more only to eventually not follow through and become disappointed in the end?

These kinds of repeated promises and eventual lapses are common for most of us at one time or another. And in fact, lacking a specific plan, the results should come as no surprise, according to Dr. John C. Norcross, whose extensive research has examined what leads to lasting change and shows how general, hazy wishes rarely work.

Virtually no one has had scientific education in how to change — I’ve always wanted to do this study just walk around an office building and say, ‘How do you learn to change your behavior? And of course they’ll give you the puzzled quizzical look and they may say, ‘Well I guess I watched my parents, maybe Dr. Phil, I took a motivational seminar,” he says. “People have largely been on their own and their models and the lessons they’ve acquired have frequently not been factual.”

So what can work? Here are six steps Norcross, distinguished professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, identifies as “crucial” to making lasting change — financial and otherwise once you are ready to start:

  1. Develop healthy alternatives and practice new skills

In the case of budgeting, actually create a plan to review your actual spending and develop a budget. “A budget isn’t real unless it’s discussed or written down,” Norcross says. “I guarantee you most people who made that financial resolution this year either did not write down a budget or are blissfully unaware of what they spend where.” (More techniques to save more and spend less by applying concepts from behavioral economics are here.)

  1. Environmental control — rearrange your environment to help and not hurt

If you’re worried about spending, avoid tempting settings such as stores, malls or online shopping sites.

  1. Nurture helping relationships

Spread the word with supportive people who will help you stick to your plan to spend less, perhaps finding like-minded budget-conscious friends who may be more judicious with you. At the same time, avoid those “people, places and things that hurt,” Norcross says.

  1. Relapse prevention

Norcross reminds a slip need not become a fall. “The thought immediately occurs ‘I have failed, I cannot do this,” Norcross says of how a slip often leads to cognitive and emotional mistakes. If a patient says, “I slipped once,’ and I point to that and say that means in 40 days you had 39 perfect days and one slip and now you want me to believe you’re emotionally a fraud and intellectually incapable of this?’” he says. “When you say that out loud you almost embarrass the patient.”

  1. Rewards

Even small rewards, such as watching your account balances grow can help spur you on — identify what motivates you. Alternately, create a contingency contract — for instance if you stay within your budget each week, treat yourself maybe it’s movie night or eating out.

“Successful resolvers use way more rewards strategy than people who failed,” Norcross says.

  1. Perseverance

“This is a marathon,” Norcross reminds. And as for perseverance? “That’s not just a personality trait,” he says. “It’s a particular thinking skill.”

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