New Attitude Not Required

I was at a training seminar yesterday that brought up some interesting conclusions that was found by some behavioral scientists which consisted of the follow two statements:

  • You don’t have to change an attitude to change a behaviour
  • Or the reverse, changing an attitude doesn’t mean you will change a behaviour.

So how is the useful for you?  You don’t have to change your attitude overnight to change what you are doing.  The classic example would be a teenager and staying out late.  They may not agree with being home by midnight (attitude), but if you put in a strong enough deterrent they will come home by midnight anyway (behaviour).

So you may not agree with how much you need to save for retirement, but that doesn’t stop you from saving more for retirement now.  Or you may not agree with how to invest your money in index funds for you to try it anyways. Or you don’t have to agree a budget will work in order to try it.  Agreement doesn’t preclude action, so you can stop using that as an excuse for not getting your financial situation in order.

So you can start:

  • using cash for spending money (so you can see you are broke and stop overspending)
  • stop paying fees on your bank account (find a no fee account or product rebate to get around it)
  • if you are not at your maximum contribution at work for matching pension money fill out the paper work today to get it  (don’t let free money pass you by).

The other interesting fact I learned was we primarily make decisions by just assessing the situation and then deciding.  We often don’t consciously compare our options in a methodical method all that much (except perhaps engineers and personal finance geeks – damn I’m screwed).  So you don’t worry about how you get yourself to do a good behaviour, just find out what works for you and use it.  If it means putting a pink ribbon or kitty stickers on your credit card so you are embarrassed to take it out and use it, then go ahead and glue it on.  Nothing is silly if it works.

So don’t you feel better now realizing you likely aren’t rational or logical in most of your decisions and no wonder your life was/is a mess at one point or another?  I know I’m likely going to approach problems a little differently now that I know how my mind works.