Insight 1: We are 5% Willpower and 95% habit
Insight 2: A habit has a specific time attached to it. It has to be precise and routine.
For example, "I will go to the gym more" doesn't make it a habit. Instead, saying "I will go to the gym three times a week, specifically on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays" makes it into a habit (when you follow through with doing what you say you're going to do).
This makes so much sense. Of course, the best ideas/insights seem so simple AFTER you put them into practice.
So I took a look at what I said I was going to do at the beginning of 2009 (Get my CC debt down to 1-20% of the available balances to improve my credit score and get the debt monkey off my back.) My habit was SUPPOSED to be sticking to my budget. As you can see from all of the quarterly updates, I did not make it a habit. It was more like a lofty, pie-in-the-sky dream. I took money out of my savings to do things that I felt were important to me and I didn't commit to paying a certain amount of money every month.
I do have a revised budget this year. Rather than bore you with it and beat myself up next year for not sticking to it I created two, simple, measurable habits that I am going to implement in 2011 that I am SURE will help me reach my new goal of being credit card debt free by December 31, 2011.
1. Pay a pre-determined amount towards my credit card debt EVERY 30 DAYS.
2. Put 50% of said pre-determined payment into my ING savings account automatically every time I get paid (15th and last day of the month).
This HABIT I'm forming is precise, measurable and moreover, I can check myself every 30 days to make sure I'm sticking to it and adjust as necessary (as opposed to trying to pay one big lump sum at the end of the year like I attempted to do (and failed) in 2010).
This also gives my credit score a chance to creep up, bit my bit each month. I'm excited.