essential 7

The Essential Seven Habits, Part 2

     As I wrote in part 1, one of my favorite authors is Gretchen Rubin. In her research on habit change, Rubin found that the happiest and most successful people had good habits in each of seven essential areas.

     Since December can be a time for reflection and goal planning, I want to challenge you over the next few weeks to review your year using the categories that Rubin has suggested. If there are areas where you would like to make changes, then you can create goals and action plans in the ones of greatest concern.


Save, Spend and Earn Wisely

     As many of my readers know, I have an MBA in Finance and spent 25 years as CFO of USC Aiken. Using good money management principles has been a part of both my personal and professional life for many years. December is an excellent time to review your financial status and make sure you are on track. If needed, make sure and get some professional advice from a financial planner.

     If you have debt or are not saving sufficiently for future needs such as retirement or college funds, then you need to make a plan to change. Yes, this is the dreaded “B-word”, or budget. A budget is simply a plan of where you want your money to go. Before making your budget, I suggest that you track how you are actually spending your money for a few months. Then it may be a bit easier to see some areas that you could reduce spending in order pay down debt or increase savings. Once you have made a budget, track your spending on a monthly basis to make sure your money is actually going where you planned. This may seem difficult, but it really is not once you get into the habit. I have made a budget and tracked my spending for about the past 20 years. I have a sheet I keep in my wallet with a monthly budget in categories. When I spend some money, such as for groceries, medical or clothing, I log it on the sheet. At the end of the month, this entered on a spreadsheet in the computer. There are also many on-line programs or apps that you can use to track your spending.

     Another aspect of saving, spending and earning wisely is charitable giving. As a Christian, I believe in tithing to my church and Christian missions plus giving to other charitable organizations. I encourage you to review your giving practices to see if they are in line with your values. If they are not, now is a good time to make plans to change beginning in the new year.

     If you are working you also will want to review your career. Does your job reflect a good use of your abilities and are you contributing in a way that is fulfilling both to yourself and to others? Does your income reflect your goals? When I retired from USCA in late 2011, I knew that I would work again in some capacity. It soon became clear that a career change to the nutrition field would enable me to use the knowledge I had gained from my personal health challenges to help others. I went back to school and got my certification as a nutrition consultant and have been doing this since I finished. This career is fulfilling for me and has been a great help to the clients I have worked with, as well as the numerous people who have read my publications or heard me on podcasts. Reflect on your career and make changes if needed.


Engage More Deeply

     The fourth essential area for good habits is engaging deeply. This refers to your interactions with yourself, with God, your spouse, your family, friends and the world. As a Christian, my first priority is to God, then to my husband and family and third to other people. However, there is a base level of self-care that should be done as a first priority. If your health is not good, then make sure you review last week’s post on eating and drinking healthily and exercising. Then consider your relationships with God and other people. If there are areas of concern, consider goals in those areas. Perhaps you may want to start or deepen a daily Bible study practice. You might start a regular date night or other activity to purposely spend more quality time with your spouse. If your relationships with friends are lagging, then plan for regular times with them. These are just a few ideas for you to consider in the area of relationships.

     I challenge you to spend some time over the next few weeks considering your habits in these areas. If there are places you would like to change, then make a proactive plan.  Comment below with any habit change goals you have for 2017.

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