A journalist friend of mine has written a book, “Why do we give up exercising?” in Tamil. It’s tiny but powerful book.
Physical exercise and financial habits have direct correlation. Let me tell you how.
It’s quite easy for us to get inspired, or intimidated as the case may be, to wake up one fine morning and start exercising. It can be running, jogging, yoga or gym. It’s quite natural to keep up the energy level high for day one.
But what happens on the second day matters a lot. You won’t have same energy level on the second day. You will be tempted to hit snooze button. You might want to excuse for just a day and allow yourself the luxury of half an hour extra sleep in the morning. It’s an irresistible pull back we all face.
The tug of war between the inner urge to sleep extra vs the determination to resume second day is important to note. Greater of these two forces triumphs. For most of us the motivation is little lesser than the pleasure of procrastination, and thus we give up the exercise on day two.
When a person overcomes this powerful second day syndrome, third day is little easier and thus a healthy habit is formed.
This is why I consider Newton’s first law very useful. It states that every object will remain at rest (or in uniform motion in a straight line) unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force.
Note this definition of inertia. It requires an external force. The motivation has to be strong enough to overcome the inertia on day two. One this becomes a regular habit and exercising becomes a normal routine, you are in it until disturbed by another external force
This metaphor applies to personal finance habits too. Its easy for a person or family to start a new discipline, say budgeting, recording the expenses or starting a monthly contribution to a mutual fund etc. They may do it for few days or a couple of months max. Then the inertia pulls back and they give up.
It requires conscious effort to overcome this inertia and master a great financial discipline. The key is to keep reminding ourselves and making use of the tools and technologies ro our aid.
Remember, it’s not impossible. We can perhaps give up neither exercising nor financial discipline. Both will yield long lasting benefits.