We’ve all heard the saying “old dogs can’t learn new tricks,” but is it true? Maybe it is for dogs, but not for people. You can always learn new habits, no matter what age you are. It starts with understanding how the brain works and building on success. You can go from seeing an action as alien to second nature more easily than you think. Here are three easy ways to develop new habits.
There are probably already many habits you have down pat, like brushing your teeth every night and making coffee in the morning. You barely have to think about these, because they have become automatic. When you do them, you actually use a different part of your brain than when you do actions for the first time. If you’re picking up a new habit, say drinking more water, the goal is to also have it become automatic. Repetition is key because the more you do something the less effort you have to put into remembering to do it. The ability to learn new behaviors is one reason to thank your aging brain: Science shows that older brains take longer to learn new tasks, but then make fewer mistakes while doing them than younger brains.
Add Onto Old Habits
It’s easier to build new habits into an existing structure, rather than creating them out of nothing. Let’s say you’re used to making coffee in the morning or reading the news. This is your morning routine and it doesn’t take a lot of effort to complete every day. Using the example of drinking more water, it might be easier to incorporate this new practice into an existing routine. Maybe it means drinking a glass of water while waiting for your coffee. Or, it could mean alternating between drinking coffee and water while reading the newspaper.
Two is Better Than One
Sometimes peer pressure is good. In fact, according to the American Psychological Association, when two people work together towards the same goal, they’re more likely to achieve it than if they were on their own. Two people can remind each other to stick to something if one forgets and offer encouragement. You and your spouse might pick the same goal and work on it together. When you’re eating out, all it takes is one of you to remember to ask the waiter to bring two glass of water for both of you to achieve the goal.
You’re never really “stuck in your ways” if you don’t want to be. Incorporating new habits into your day and achieving new goals can be done by anyone of any age. The same applies to your finances: changing your ways for the better and having help along the way can make preparing for retirement easier. And, you don’t have to be on your own when it comes to retirement planning. An advisor can help guide you to and through retirement using a comprehensive financial plan designed for you.