When I first began my journey into financial literacy I tried to change everything overnight. I’m sure many of you have this experience where you come across a new idea and you’re so eager to adopt it that you try and do it all at once. I’m also sure that many times these big changes fail. Humans are naturally resistant to large change and this is a big part of why many New Year’s resolutions fail.
How to Eat an Elephant or Frog
The best way to encourage lasting change is by doing it in small amounts. Growing up I always heard this little saying: “What’s the best way to eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” (Sometimes it’s also referred to as eating frogs.) I think even though a lot of people repeat little sayings like this that it goes over a lot of people’s heads and they forget the true meaning. These lessons are meant to be quick little snippets to help us remember them as we make our way through life.
How to Apply it
We all want to be better versions of ourselves, it’s an important part of leading a fulfilling life. We want to be healthier, smarter, faster, etc. but, we often forget those things don’t happen overnight. So how do we achieve the goal of being the best version of ourselves? We do so by making small changes daily, weekly, monthly, or even annually. It’s much easier to say that I’ll walk 1,000 steps today rather than saying I’ll run a mile today. A mile is made up of steps so why not just try to take a few more steps than yesterday and work up to a mile?
In terms of personal finance trying to change everything overnight is very difficult. Start with one thing you can change to save money. This past year I started rethinking small things around the house that could save us money. I thought through what our typical routine was like for a day and week and came up with two painless ways to save: cloth napkins and wool dryer balls. They both have an upfront cost associated with them but will save us money and help the environment in the long run.
Try thinking of 30 simple things you can do to save money and make a list. Try incorporating one of those things from your list each day. You may surprise yourself with how much you can improve and change in 30 days. If you’re stuck and can’t come up with 30 things go with 7 or try thinking through this scenario: What would someone have done in this situation 50 or 100 years ago?