How to turn bad habits into positive goals: PF Weekly grab a brew #77

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grab-a-brew-bad habitsLOOK UP AND BE AWARE

I don’t care who you are we all have bad habits in our lives whether it be smoking, drinking, drugs, over-spending, laziness, etc. 

The list of bad habits can go on and on and what I never gave much thought to was how we tend to focus on the “good habits” rather than the bad habits.

Why? We like to feel better about ourselves so focusing on the good and forgetting about the bad habits is much easier to do.

I don’t know the exact psychology behind the way the human brain works but when I read an article about what Dean Hovey who met with Steve Jobs in 1978 to design the first mouse for the Apple computer had to say, it made me realize that I needed to make small changes in my life.

To paraphrase Hovey felt that although we do something over and over it doesn’t necessarily mean we are aware of our surroundings. Interesting, I thought but true.

He used an example of riding his bike to University every day and not being able to recall the roof’s shape, colour or composition when his Stanford University professor asked him to draw a picture of the famous Hoover Tower by memory.

I knew that if my professor asked me to do something similar I might fail on that request because my mind is always wandering.

Like many people, I’m busy so when I’m doing things like commuting as I’m thinking about what I need to get done or I am going over notes.

I’ve done the same thing at work. I’ve been in the same place for 7 years now but I can’t tell you specific things about my workplace such as what is on the walls, or the colour of the tiles because I’m not aware.

Kick the bad habits to the curb

When my wife and I used to smoke we knew that smoking was bad for us but it was a habit that we continued to do without being aware of the implications UNTIL someone brought it up.

Most times we just ignored when we saw those nasty photos on the cigarette pack or commercials on the television. We weren’t aware of the bad habit because we chose not to be aware.

It wasn’t until we wanted to break that cycle because family members with heart conditions scared us and we wanted to live not die because of something we put on ourselves.

By being aware of our triggers, writing them down and focusing on positive habits and goals we were able to quit smoking without spending any further money. We are now coming up for three years smoke free in January 2015.

Bad habits and finance

I often get people emailing me about being in debt and they don’t know why or how to fix it.

Again, it’s about being aware of where the money is going. I always suggest using a budget for this reason.

If you want to know where your bad habits are with your finances track your spending by getting all receipts and using a budget. (You can download my free budget spreadsheet to get started)

Once you budget for a few months the numbers will tell you a story.

You are now going to be aware of exactly what is causing you to spend more than you earn or what is causing you to run out of money every month keeping you in debt.

If you are someone who can only see the negative of situations a good reason is you are not aware of the positive.

We tend to focus too much on one or the other, good habits or bad habits.

A balance of both would make our lives easier because we are mindful of our surroundings and attempt to make right what we don’t want in our life or what is causing us downtime.

Bad habits and fitness

I always like to use my friends in examples because I am aware of what they say to me because I love personal finance and listening to people when they talk about their life.

One friend complains that he runs every day and eats good food but struggles to meet his goals.

I asked him to log a diary of his weekly routines so we could review it.

I’m not a fitness pro but I’m also aware that if you eat more than you take in you are likely to put on some pounds. I know, I’ve done it.

When push came to shove he wasn’t aware of how many extra calories those beers he drank every weekend with his mates cost him, not only in his budget but around the waist.

Sure there are possible health conditions that could lead to people not reaching health goals but unless you are aware of your habits especially bad habits you have no concrete documentation to work with.

Now, he’s happy to report he’s kicked the drinking and opts for less drinks when he goes out, if any at all.

He’s down 10 lbs in the past two months. See, bad habits can be knocked on the head as long as you are aware of them.

Don’t make something more difficult than it seems.

Trust that you can make a difference in your world by battling your bad habits and focusing on how you can improve what needs to be altered in your life to make you smile every day.

So, from now on I’m going to be mindful or “aware” of my surroundings and leave what I don’t have to think about until I need to think about it.

I always tend to put others first and think that if I don’t get something done I’ll upset someone so I work endlessly until my job is done.

Sometimes we tend to over-think situations but if we forget to look up in the process we may just miss opportunities that pass us by.

How do you become aware of your bad habits so you can fix them?

Top recipe

blueberry cake with lemon glaze

If you don’t already know I have a second Facebook page called The Free Recipe Depot where I share recipes from other Foodie Bloggers from around the world.

Once a week I pick one recipe that has been submitted as my Top Recipe of the week. Trust me when I say this is no easy task as some of these foodies can cook up a storm.

This week I picked a recipe that is full of gorgeous blueberries and one that I can’t wait to make for family and friends.

Bunny’s Warm Oven has been featured on CBB many times now and it’s because I just can’t get enough of her amazing recipes.

Head on over to check out her blog and subscribe, you won’t be sorry.

This is what Bunny’s Warm Oven has to say about her Blueberry Cake with Lemon Glaze.

Blueberry and lemon come together beautifully in this very light, fluffy, tender cake.

The blueberry flavor is upfront and amazing with one and a half cups of blueberries in this 8×8 cake. Lemon glaze always adds a nice brightness to berries, as it does here.

Weekly CBB post

If you missed any CBB posts from the week here is the list of posts you can catch up on reading!

Well, that’s a wrap for this PF Friday’s Grab a brew #77. Happy budgeting and I’ll see you here again next week when I do it all over again.


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  1. Being aware of you surroundings, it’s interesting that you should mention that. My husband is a man that enjoys nature to the fullest. We live in the country down in a valley and it’s beautiful. I don’t take the time as he does to enjoy the beauty of where we live. It seems that my time is always spent doing other things or thinking about what has to be done next. I need to take the time to “smell the roses” as the saying goes. I’m also happy to tell you that my husband is seeing the benefits of budgeting . He’s been a roofer and owned his own business for 43 yrs. It’s seasonal work. In his first marriage he had 7 children, the last of which turned 18 a couple months before we got married 3 yrs ago. He was paying 3000 dollars a month in child support ( when all 7 children were at home)and alimony for many yrs. That always came first, then his own financial needs had to be met. At 62 now he says because I kept insisting we budget money every month he lives a different way than he ever has and enjoys it! There is less stress about money! Thank you Mr. CBB!

    1. Hi Mary,
      I love all of your recipes, thank you for sharing. I can appreciate when I hear such lovely stories as this because many people don’t realize the power of a budget. If you ever want to share your story in a blog post let me know. I always like to inspire the readers. Mr.CBB

  2. Thanks for the link love!

    And congrats on 3 years smoke free!! I keep trying to get my mom to quit, but nothing works. I believe that until you really want to quite something, it doesn’t matter what people say to you, you’re just going to keep on with that habit anyway.

    1. Yes, almost 3 years and I’m thankful every day that I had the strength to give it up! You are right though unless someone really wants to give it up they won’t do it.

  3. I liked this article. In order to change bad habits, I have to be honest with myself. I have to want to change. This is really hard! I derailed on my gluten free/healthy eating plan during the holidays and for the first three months of the year. I was so tired. I had headaches all the time and I gained weight. I was not exercising. I was not taking time for myself at all. I was working and trying to get a 4.0 in my college classes. I felt miserable. Putting yucky food in my mouth was faster, but in the long run it was not good. I had to admit I was making poor food choices. Then I had to get off my duff and change it!

    1. Amazing how easy we can fall off track. It’s no wonder more of us stop to smell the roses sometimes and put ourselves first. Most often everything else can wait. I also think we underestimate the power of one hour of “Me” time every day or so.

  4. I have beaten a number of my bad habits like poor eating, not exercising and spending money. Each time I determined I was going to kick these to the curb, I was at a low and decided I hated being there and made a change. None of these was easy to beat and I still have to constantly work at them, but I feel good that I went through the process. Thank you so much for including my post this week!! Have a great weekend!

    1. Any time we have to beat a habit or make changes it’s an on-going process. Even though I quit smoking for example the smell of someone having a smoke does eat me up inside. I desire it for just a brief moment until the smell makes me ill. If you don’t have that strength or turn to bad habits when the going gets tough it’s hard to jump out again.

  5. Well it seems I may have licked some bad habits and picked up some new ones. Not budgeting (licked), getting less exercise (new). I’ve always been an exerciser though so I think it’s short lived, but its definitely a factor of time and I need to sort it out.

    1. Like I was just mentioning to a fan in another comment above we underestimate the power of time. We always say we don’t have time but we need to “make’ time and just do it.

  6. Mr CBB… this is a timely article for me personally. I have had to admit that working from home has it’s drawbacks. If I am awake, I feel “on call” and that I need to be ready to jump into my business mode … in fact I find it very hard to turn off my brain. I dream about work related topics and have to get up in the middle of the night to deal with an issue so that I can go back to sleep and rest peacefully. I tend to focus on all that is good about working from home like comfortable clothing, domestic multi-tasking (I can do laundry, run the dishwasher, cook supper in the crockpot – all while working), there’s no commute time and reduced costs associated with maintaining a business wardrobe & reduced transportation costs BUT the lack of an “off switch” and face-to-face interaction are two of the downsides.

    Owning up to these downsides has forced me to look at where I am today. After the year end, a tax season with a vacation in the middle of it, a go-go-go timeshare purchase on a long weekend and all the associated issues for follow-up in the eight weeks following, identifying a bank computer glitch with our investments and having all the associated follow-up and checking to ensure each and every single investment has been properly corrected, planning/booking our 2014 and 2015 vacations and staying on top of our every day financial/tax/accounting/legal/contractor matters – I am mentally exhausted!

    There’s only one of me and although I am responsible enough to make sure everything is done on time & correctly… but I am not sixteen anymore. My bad habit is pushing myself to the brink of absolute collapse. I see the problem now and plan to tackle the issue head on by building breaks into my year!

    I am committing to building a quarterly bit of down time into my life. It will accomplish several good things if I am away from the house four times a year, even if only for a few days: 1. I will be forced into taking a wee break to re-charge physically & thus come back to my duties far more productive. 2. It will also allow me the time to just think about and plan the “what’s next” for us personally and for the business. 3. A quarterly respite gives me a chance to experience face-to-face interactions with someone other than hubby. I love him dearly but none of us can be all things to one person. & 4. For me, exhaustion breeds negativity so the quarterly downtime creates opportunity to face new challenges with gusto! I can almost feel those creative juices ready to roar!

    I so agree with your assessment that once we identify the issue, we can change it. There were a lot of “do me first” sort of priorities in our home over the last 3 years, but it’s now time to turn my attention to the physical and mental well being of hubby and I. One of the topics you wrote about this week was what to do with the “excess income” now that the mortgage is paid off. May I suggest that you chat with the wife to see if she feels in need of some level of re-charge. I regularly hear that you are burning the candle at both ends, I so know that one, maybe tiny breaks are just what the doctor ordered. Perhaps the time-outs would allow you both to reach your goals with both your health and energy still in good shape. Just a thought.

    1. Hi Mary,
      Many people who work from home feel what you are going through, especially always being in that “turned on” mode. It’s hard to put the work to rest because you are in a way your own boss so you don’t punch out and forget about it. I’m happy to hear you are going to make some changes. We do get our breaks but yes we are planning some day trips this summer. There’s more to the story… coming soon 🙂 Mr.CBB

  7. Habits are something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately. I’m trying to become more type b and less stressed, but it really is a muscle that has to be worked daily. I can’t just magically snap my fingers and make it happen. I set up visual and audio reminders using my iPhone to try to remember to do certain exercises, like practicing gratitude until hopefully one day it becomes a habit.

    1. Everything takes time Tonya and with that it takes a constant effort to stay on top. Don’t put too much stress on yourself to be a certain way either because no one is perfect. 🙂 Smile.

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