How you can Change Your Life with Small Habit Changes
We have some terrible habits but getting the whole family on board feels impossible. So I, Ms Aspiring Millionaire, decided to do some for myself.
The idea behind Atomic Habits and The Compound Effect is essentially small changes e.g 1% at a time add up. The same as compound interest makes a real difference over time, so do habit changes and they don’t have to be big.
Too often we set out with the greatest intentions, overhaul our whole life, commit to 2 hours a day at the gym then within a few months we fail miserably. Or we pay ourselves last and never save or invest anything.
But if we make a tiny change and build on it over time, eventually, those small changes make a big difference. The small changes are doable. It doesn’t feel like a burden and it can be applied to every area of our lives.
Disclosure: this post may contain affiliate links.
1. Pay Yourself 1%
Generally, it is recommended we save at least 10% of our income, if not more. For many, this feels impossible. But what about 1%? If you’re paid $1,000 a week that means only $10 needs to be transferred to savings.
Surely, if you can live on $1,000 you can learn to live on $990? Transfer that 1% immediately and let it grow. As you get comfortable with that, make it 2% or $20, then 3% or $30. Eventually, you will be saving 10% or more.
I read about this in-depth in Profit First. If you are a business owner, Profit First is a must-read.
We adjust the rest of our lives and budget to that missing money. So pay yourself first.
2. Invest 1%
The same as paying yourself first, invest first. Start with 1% and build from there. You can invest as little as 1% on some platforms. Commit to it and soon you will have a larger portfolio than you could imagine right now.
3. Do 5 Minutes of Exercise
It might not seem like much and it won’t make much of a difference in the beginning but you need to start somewhere. Squeeze 5 minutes of intense cardio in, do 10 squats before your shower or when heating something up in the microwave and you will quickly be doing more exercise than you thought.
Ideally, you’d commit to 30 minutes a day to maintain health but you have to start somewhere. Start with 5 minutes if you need then increase to 10 then 15 and so on until you are doing a full workout you want to do.
4. The 5 Second Rule
Mel Robbins is famous for this. Basically, make a decision and count down to make it happen. Instead of laying in bed all morning, countdown from 5, the same way NASA does then get out of bed! She has a whole book on how this can be applied to your life to snap you out of negative thinking and motivate you to make changes.
5. Ditch the Drinks
Whether it’s alcohol, energy drinks or a daily coffee it adds up. Not only financially but it takes it’s toll on your health too.
Go through your bank account and have a look at how much money you spend on drinks you want to reduce or quit. For me, it was a daily energy drink which is terrible for my health. There is literally nothing good in them but I was addicted hard.
To stop this habit, I decided to start transferring the amount I would have spent on the drink to a special savings account every time I resisted buying it. For a long time, I have wanted to buy a new rowing machine. I’ve never owned one and it is my favourite machine in the gym. Ideally, I’d love to have a full gym set up next year.
Once I started transferring the amounts, it added up quickly. That $2 to $5 here and there was $14 to $50 a week! Since I can’t use a rowing machine for a few more months, this gives me time to change this habit and save enough to get something I really want instead of wasting my money on drinks.
If you struggle with addictions, there is help out there. Support groups, counselling etc. For alcohol, check out Alcoholics Anonymous.
6. Create a Morning Routine
Recently, I tried The Billionaire Morning Routine. As a mother of 4, pregnant, juggling business, real estate, studying and doing it on my own while Mr Aspiring Millionaire is in another state studying, it was a little tricky some mornings. However, it taught me a lot.
I used to always have a morning routine and it is recommended by every successful person I know. Getting up at 5am is working well for me. Getting time before the kids get up, doing some yoga, having my vitamins and smoothie, journalling and prepping for the day sets my whole day up.
With time to myself and some organisation, my whole day goes smoother, I am calmer and much more productive.
Check out The Miracle Morning for tips on your morning routine.
7. Get up Earlier
I used to sleep as long as I could because I struggled to get to sleep. A few habit changes and now I rise at 5am before my kids wake at 7am and it is amazing.
Start with getting up 5 minutes earlier and going to bed 5 minutes earlier if you have to.
8. Night Routine
Set up a night routine for success. Switch off devices 1 to 2 hours before bed and do not keep them in your room. Read, shower, brush your teeth and wind down so when you go to bed, you are ready.
I also like to do a ‘brain dump’. This includes writing in my journal, listing 3 things I am grateful for and having a list to dump all my thoughts or things I think I need to do. Getting it out of my head makes sleep much easier for me.
9. Set Your Most Important Tasks
I do this at the end of the day to prepare for the next day. Once I have finished any work or study or whatever it is I have done that day, I make my list of the 3 most important things for me to do the next day.
Having them written out gets it out of my head and means when I finish my morning routine, I am straight into the most important tasks for the day, often completing them before my kids are up which makes life so much easier.
Use an app such as Balance to start meditating. I used to think this was one of those things people say they do to sound cool but it really does help. By meditating I sleep better and think clearer. Often, when meditating of a morning, answers I need come to me later that morning because I have had time to slow down, breathe and think.
What are some small habits you could change for success?
Recently I posted about the cultural differences with money since we have 5 cultures in our blended family. We have extremely different expectations placed on us and since sharing more about our money, there were issues.
These issues were so big, I stopped posting out of fear. I withdrew on ALL my platforms out of fear. This happened once before, when going through court for child custody. Anything and everything I wrote my ex and his lawyer tried to use against me in court. It didn’t work but it instilled intense fear.
At the end of July, that fear crept in massively when these issues happened and I stopped everything.
What Happened to Stop me Posting?
I mentioned in the article about our cultural differences with money pressure to provide. There have been issues throughout our relationship where I have been viewed as a bank or simply money instead of a person. It happened again in a big way and I was done.
I pulled back completely. We had a 5-year plan which we made clear and it was not being respected. As a result, it felt as if anything I posted on here was being used against us. Because the people asking DO follow and read this.
We have not spoken since this incident and it has taken me until now to overcome the fear and get back into things.
On top of that, Mr Aspiring Millionaire had to go to another state, our son started teething and not sleeping, work issues happened, the kids had issues at school and our eldest turned 14. So there was a lot on.
But I used all of that as an excuse. The thing holding me back was fear.
How to Overcome Fear
Firstly, you need to recognise that’s what it is. As humans, we are amazing at finding excuses to avoid anything without acknowledging we are actually scared.
“Feel the fear and do it anyway.” is a quote I have often applied in my life. Along with “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”
After acknowledging my fear, I asked myself, what’s the worst that can happen?
These people will keep asking for more money? They will think we are stuck up or holding out? They will place their expectations on us?
None of that really matters to me. Deep down, I do not care what they think. What matters to me is my family and I am sick of trying to please everyone.
So I put my foot down with that. I said no. I made it clear I will not tolerate this attitude and I stepped back.
Take Time For Yourself
Fear is also known as False Evidence Appearing Real. I was scared because I felt that if I kept doing this, they would keep asking and causing issues. Putting pressure on us and never respecting me as a person.
That is a whole lot of “what if” thinking. In reality, no one can make me do anything with my money. They can’t force me to do anything and if they keep asking, I can choose to cut contact. I can hang up the phone, not respond to emails etc. Whatever it is I need to do to protect my sanity.
When you are feeling fear or making a bunch of excuses up to avoid something, ask yourself why? Ask yourself what’s the worst that can happen? What’s the best that can happen? And what really matters to you?
Take some time out to think and work out what is holding you back and why. Then you can take the next step to overcome it.
Decide What You Want
What do you really want? What’s holding you back? You can think about the worst case scenarios if you want to then problem solve them.
Personally, I tend to dive headfirst into things and go for it instead of thinking of every possible scenario. Too man y scenarios will stop me from taking any action.
If you know what you want, which in the case of this site is to double my money until I am a millionaire and track our net worth, it’s easier to make a plan and stick to it.
When you don’t know what you want, you tend to float aimlessly and it is much harder to overcome fears or money blocks.
Create a Plan
In my situation, I already had a plan. I chickened out on it because of my fears and excuses.
Create a plan with actionable steps. Even if you only take one small step in the right direction each day, it will add up. Without a plan, nothing will happen and you’ll waste a lot of time.
My preference is to set SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound. I like to work on one at a time and do it in a block. Each night I journal how I am going and have a plan for the next day. Being accountable this way helps keep me on track.
Nothing will happen if you don’t take action. A plan is great but without action, it is simply a wish. Commit to taking daily action to achieve whatever it is you want to achieve.
As you take action, it builds momentum. Moving in the direction you want to be going will help you stay motivated.
What Changes am I Making?
I stepped right outside my comfort zone by outsourcing more of my business since so much of my time is taken up in my personal life right now. By opting out of communicating with the people causing issues, my stress levels dropped drastically.
I’m focused on the next step of my doubling my money challenge to get to over $1,000,000 and have a better plan for everything.
How do you overcome fear and money blocks?
What I Did to Lose $1,000,000
This is from Ms Aspiring Millionaire and happened before she met Mr Aspiring Millionaire. We all make mistakes, these are some of my big ones!
Back in 2014, I was a CEO and my net worth was over $1,000,000. Owning multiple websites, a marketing business and doing a lot of public speaking, consulting and charity work saw me achieving my goals and in a good financial position. So how did I lose it all and have to start over?
Divorce Crushes Your Finances
In 2013, I got divorced. Australian law means you have to be separated for 12 months and 1 day before you can apply. It was a messy divorce because of domestic abuse, so there was a protection order in place and a lot therapy needed for my daughters and I.
The divorce part was easier because I had a protection order, our daughters lived with me and the judge was satisfied with the arrangements. However, custody was not finalised at the time. Instead, I was advised to hold off on applying for that immediately as even with the abuse, 50/50 care was the most likely outcome.
In 2015, I needed passports and he wouldn’t grant them. Which meant, I had to apply for custody. This was just one part of a few bad decisions and circumstances.
Health Is Everything
In 2015, I became paralysed, had multiple surgeries and in the middle of it all, tested positive for cancer of the bladder. I had polyps removed (and have had a few surgeries for this since then) but all is ok. For 7 months, I had excruciating pain and paralysis on and off making life extremely difficult.
Much of my work was able to be done from home but it suffered. If I spoke at an event (using the prescribed pain killers and nerve blockers), I would be out for 3 days after because of pain and paralysis.
Ill health took a massive toll on my body, along with the expense of custody.
Moving and Trusting the Wrong People
At the end of 2015, my health was improving but my finances were in a terrible state. We moved to Melbourne as my then live in boyfriend got an amazing job. He had been unemployed throughout 2015 so this was huge for him.
He moved a few weeks before us, then right as I was meant to be moving and had sold off everything, made all the arrangements, he decided we couldn’t live with him. With severe mental health issues and addictions (which I was unaware of at the time), he kept changing his mind. I made other accommodation arrangements but we ended up back together.
Trusting him was possibly the stupidest thing I have done and it cost me a fortune. We had gone halves in a car but it was only in his name. He sold it and never gave me my half. Everything about his life was more important to him than the needs/wants of my kids and I.
Despite promises of things being even and him providing more since I had financially provided for us the whole of 2015, he didn’t. We called it quits later but it was a messy, co-dependent relationship. His addiction to alcohol, cocaine usage and anxiety issues were horrendous.
To be clear, he was nice in the beginning and seemed to have it together. He had a great job, nice friends, played sport etc. As time went on, his true personality came out but because I had left an abusive marriage a few years before and my kids were attached to him, I tried to make it work.
When we broke up, I was done with men. I was also financially devastated and still in the middle of the custody battle with my ex husband.
Child Custody is Expensive!
7.5 years after I left, I was finally granted full parental responsibility of my daughters. Meaning, I got full custody and he has no rights. The process has changed now but it was a nightmare. We started in Canberra, then I moved to Melbourne and had to go through it there. In Melbourne, my daughters were selected to go to China with their school (only 12 kids got to go). He still objected so it got more intense.
In the lower courts, a lot of lies were told by him and since we couldn’t subpoena evidence until later, our case was pushed to a higher court. He had my daughters put on the watch list once the courts made him sign for the passports so they still didn’t get to go to China.
I had to get a full psychiatric assessment because he claimed I had mental health issues. That cost thousands, on top of the lawyer fees. Then in the higher courts, I had to have a barrister too. I also had to pay for the court usage since I was the one who applied for custody. Not only did I have to pay for each day in court but all the preparations.
During all of this, he was harassing us again with multiple phone calls and threats. I had to get a new protection order as my daughters and I were scared. A 5 year, super strict protection order was granted. Our judge on the day was amazing. My ex didn’t show so it was granted and she gave us more than I asked for. We were hoping for 1 year.
Because it was now 2019 and I had left him in 2012 which is when the first report of his violence was made, it was classed as long term, ongoing abuse. So the judge gave the maximum protection she could.
Extra Legal Expenses
At this stage, I was emotionally and financially exhausted but things were progressing. We were finally able to subpoena evidence from police in multiple states, child protection, teachers, psychologists and other people who had made reports about my daughters against my ex-husband.
When it all came to the courthouse, a lawyer has to go up and go through it all. I had to pay for that time plus the rest of the preparation time. They had never seen so much evidence and it ALL matched exactly what I had said and the evidence I had outlining times, dates, organisations/people involved etc. During this process, his lawyer sent notice that he no longer represents my ex.
Since he never turned up and his lawyer dropped him, he didn’t have to pay for anything. The court made so many allowances for him then finally, in the higher court, we got a great judge who did not tolerate his games. When he didn’t turn up, the court called him, he said it was all too hard and the court ordered him to come to the next one. If he didn’t, a decision and order would be made without him.
Fortunately, he did not show up. The court appointed children’s lawyer agreed with me and the evidence so I was awarded everything we asked for.
But it cost me everything I had. In the end, I even sold off all my furniture and moved out of our house. We planned on travelling full time once court was done, so I didn’t mind doing this. I also had to borrow tens of thousands of dollars from my parents to complete it. Thankfully, my parents could afford to lend me money when I needed it.
Therapy After Abuse
From 2012, my daughters needed speech therapy which was expensive. But with everything else that happened then and over the next few years, they needed a lot of other therapy and help too. As did I.
At $200 a session for counselling/psychology and $90 a session for speech therapy, it added up fast. In 2013, I paid more a week in speech therapy and psychology than I paid in rent. It was worth it though.
My daughters and I are well adjusted. They are eternally grateful I got them out and got them help so they could process everything.
During the years of abuse and court, my daughters were triggered at times. This meant, with all their needs, I could not work full time in a job. I had to do side hustles or my own business but my time to do it was limited.
From CEO to Freelancer
I sold my company when I was in the bad relationship in Melbourne. He had managed to convince me he was better at everything than I was (despite me speaking internationally and winning awards). I lost all my confidence and had enough.
After that, because of the emotional strain of court, the bad relationship and other issues, I barely coped. Instead, I did what I could as a freelancer, did side hustles and focused on healing my daughters and myself.
What Changed and How I am Changing it with Mr Aspiring Millionaire
With all of that, you can see why I would not want to be in a relationship again. I decided to go for financial independence, travel and have a fun lifestyle with my kids instead. It was fun and my kids loved it. We did it like this for quite some time. Deep down, they both told me they wanted me to be with someone and be happy after they grew up. I was not ready though.
But when Mr Aspiring Millionaire and I met at the end of 2018, the connection was instant and obvious to everyone. I was hesitant, yet despite being in different countries, we got to know each other and it worked.
My work took me back to the Solomon Islands where he was working a few times and after 10 months he quit so we could travel together. We have the same goals, same dreams from childhood regarding finances, investments and lifestyle. I don’t know any couple who matches so perfectly on the big things as we do.
With 4 kids between us, our goal is financial independence as a large family. Not only for us but also our family in Vanuatu and the Solomon Islands.
So basically, I lost my million dollar net worth because of bad decisions with men and ill health. Having the right life partner and being healthy makes a huge difference to mind, body, spirit AND finances. I am so happy to now have a partner who wants the same things in life as I do and is supportive.
In the time we’ve been together, we’ve managed to travel a few countries and a large portion of Australia. We’ve faced bushfires, a cyclone, lock down in another country, repatriation, setting up a new home twice (once overseas and once here). Plus buying a car, visa applications, residency applications and so much more.
Yet, we are currently in a better financial position than either of us could have imagined and have learnt from our mistakes.
What Big Financial Mistakes Have You Made?