I sat in the driver’s seat and carefully looked both ways as I pulled the car out of the rental agency. I turned on the right blinker and was met with the windshield wipers furiously crossing my path. So it went. For the first several days of driving on the left side of the road in Australia, the windshield wipers worked beautifully every time I went to make a turn.
It was so hard to change something as simple as using the left hand side control. It was comical — I had to think about something that was rote behavior. The consequence of my ongoing faux pas was negligible, and we just giggled. However, the first time I forgot to look right for oncoming traffic made a much bigger impact (almost literally) to my psyche, and I changed my driving acumen immediately.
What financial resolutions have you made for 2014? Save more, spend less, give more, set goals, communicate better, reconnect with your assets, rebalance your portfolio? Do some of these changes have greater significance or ramifications than others? January is waning, and much of our resolve may get stalled in the remnants of old ways of thinking, or habits that are hard to break.
Dr. Edward Miller at Johns Hopkins University found that 90 percent of patients that had undergone painful, invasive, expensive bypass heart surgery did not make a change in their lifestyle habits that would keep them from dying or needing repeat surgery. Even with the fear of death, they didn’t alter habits. Dr. Dean Ornish, founder of the Preventative Medicine Research, ran a study alongside Mutual of Omaha showing that lifestyle change did happen in people who took a holistic approach to transformation. People created a new vision of the “joy of living.” They looked at all aspects of their lives — the psychological, emotional and spiritual dimensions, alongside the nuts and bolts of health information. With these new motivators, the study found only 33 percent of patients didn’t stick with their program.
Other studies have shown that it takes between 21 and 66 days to create healthy habits. We live in an instant gratification world, and it is hard to press through the challenge of making behavioral modifications.
Yes, we need to understand the consequences of not changing, as well as educate ourselves to the tools we have to facilitate transformation. More importantly, we are finding, is to create and embrace the optimistic vision of what lies on the other side. Look at what modifications you want to make in your life this year — whether it physical, emotional, spiritual or financial, press on. Picture what the consequences will be if you don’t make a change and feel the fear. Depending on your pain tolerance, you may make a shift sooner than later. Next, create and embrace the beautiful vision of what lies on the other side of the adjustment. Make it tangible. Journal, collage, converse and collaborate with others. Make it real to you and to the people in your life that are affected by this behavioral course correction. Find accountability partners, mentors, coaches or advisors as needed.
We are home in the valley that I love, happily driving on the “right” side of the road. My temporary encounter with the Down Under driving technique was yet another opportunity for a life lesson to share, silly as it sounds. I wish you all success in your opportunities for financial transformation in 2014.
Danielle Howard is a Certified Financial Planner ™ practitioner. Wealth By Design, LLC, her financial life planning office is located at 23300 Two Rivers Road in Basalt. She helps clients build financial lives to facilitate their passions and purpose. Visit her at www.wealthbydesign4u.com or call 927-3909. Advisory Services offered through Lighthouse Financial, LLC., A Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC. Cambridge and WBD are not affiliated.