May 28

Making Good Habits Stick

Earlier this week, I was making my way home from my morning run when I bumped into a friend. It was great to catch up (at a suitable distance of course). But after a few laughs, he mentioned he’d been feeling a bit down over the last few days. We talked about his routine during lockdown and it turned out that one of the biggest changes has been his lack of daily commute. He was no longer cycling to and from work every day.

This got me thinking; which changes have we all seen to our lifestyles over the last few weeks, and which of these are for the better?

I understand I am in a very fortunate position and lockdown has been extremely difficult for many people. However, I’ve enjoyed the slower pace of life during these last few months. I’ve had extra time with my family and the opportunity to exercise every day. I think for many of us, there will at least be a few positives that we would like to keep going after we eventually get back to normal.

The recent lockdown has presented us with an opportunity to think about what really matters to us and assess whether how we normally spend our money actually aligns with our deeper values. What have we been missing over the last couple of months and what have we started doing differently that we would like to keep doing in the future? Just as importantly, what aren’t we missing that we regularly commit to?

One client recently told me that their budget has always been stretched as a result of their busy social life. Keeping up appearances with different groups of friends had often left them struggling to meet their other monthly commitments, becoming a source of stress and worry. For this client, lockdown has shown how the cost of socialising can be reduced via the use of video calls, which he intends to keep using post-pandemic. Of course, my client is keen to get to the pub as soon as they reopen (he’s not the only one!) but going forward, he now recognizes a way to both give his friends time and stick to his monthly budget.

For my client, lockdown has given him the ability to keep on top of his finances. For my friend, it’s highlighted the importance of having some time alone on his bike. For me, it’s provided fewer time constraints as life feels less rushed. Whatever it has done for you, I believe that this time will have taught us all something about what matters most and given us ideas about how we would like to live our lives.

The big question now is how do we make sure these changes stick? What’s realistic? What will the barriers be when life gets back to normal and what can we do to combat this?

My biggest success during lockdown has been my exercise routine. I’ve now managed 35 days in a row because I made sure my plans were simple and achievable. But I know if I don’t adapt my routine it will be shot to pieces once the school run starts again and the kids’ extracurricular activities are back on the agenda. I’m still working on this but I’ll let you know how I get on when the time comes!

I recommend that you think about the impact lockdown has had on you and what changes you would like to affect in the future. If regular socialising has stretched your own budget in the past, continue to keep in touch via video call a couple of time each month.

If you’re hoping to keep up your regular countryside walks, arrange a set time with a friend each week to make sure you’re ‘locked in’. If the barrier is not living close by, arrange to pick them up or meet in the middle.

These are undoubtedly simplistic suggestions but the point remains the same. If you want to stick to something, the best way to achieve this is to set a clear plan and get into a regular routine.

Whatever you do, I would urge you to think deeply about what the most important things are in your life and what you might do to fully align how you spend your time and money with your deeper values. If this recent lockdown has taught us anything, it’s that we need to get the most out of life and embrace what truly matters to us whilst we have the chance.

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