As you near the end of the year, you might already be thinking of New Year’s Resolutions. But we know that only around 9 to 12 percent of people keep their New Year’s resolutions.1 A more sustainable approach might be to create better habits and systems for the way you do things. Author James Clear notes, “You do not rise to the level of your goals, you fall to the level of your systems.”2
Building better systems can help you cultivate healthy habits. In his book Atomic Habits, Clear says to make it easy for you to build new habits you have to make it easier on yourself. For example, if your desired new habit is to eat healthier but you always have junk food in the house, the new system can be not bringing junk food into the house. However, if it has to be in the house, put it somewhere where you can’t easily access it. For example, if you have chips and cookies, keep them higher in the cupboard. In addition, put healthier snacks in an easier-to-access place, like right in your eyeline or on shelves within reach so they become the easiest choice.3
Clear offers a strategy for building better habits in a blog post:4
- Start small. Willpower is like any other muscle that gets tired, Clear notes, so making small, achievable habits – like doing five pushups a day instead of 50 – can help you make it easy enough to get it done and build your willpower muscle.
- Small increments. Clear adds that making tiny gains is better than making no gains at all. Start small and gradually increase to increase the likelihood that you’ll stick to your new habit – start with five pushups a day, then gradually increase to 10, 15, 20 and so on.
- Chunk it out. If you have a goal to meditate for 20 minutes a day but you can’t focus for an entire 20 minutes, Clear says to break it up into two sets of 10-minute meditation sessions.
- Never miss two days in a row. We’re going to miss a day every now and then when we’re trying to build better habits, but the key is to not miss two days in a row. Get rid of the all-or-nothing attitude and get back on track right away when you miss a day.
- Be patient. Don’t try to do too much too quickly. Be patient and don’t go out too quickly. Pick a sustainable pace and stick to it because going back to the second point, small gains are better than no gains at all.
Get A Jumpstart on Savings
This year we experienced some record inflation, which squeezed our wallets a little tighter.5 As such, we might be headed into this winter still wanting to save a little bit more. One way to do that is to make small changes to winterize your home and potentially save on your energy bills.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration notes that energy prices will average 14.6 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2022, which is up 6.2 percent from 2021. This higher price reflects an increase in wholesale power prices due to rising natural gas prices.6
Intuit advises you to prepare your homes to keep your electric bills reasonable and offers some simple tips:7
- Cover your water heater. Much like your jacket keeps you warm and insulated, a water heater cover can help it be covered and protected. Intuit notes that you can find these for as little as $20 at Lowe’s or Walmart.
- Get winter drapes. Good thermal curtains can help you save up to 25 percent on your heating bill. You can purchase a new pair of blackout and insulating curtains to keep out the draft.
- Seal your windows. Speaking of drafts, sealing your windows can also help prevent them and potentially save you some cash.
- Adjust your thermostat. Don’t crank the heat sky high. Adjust it to a temperature where you’re comfortable that won’t cost a ton of money, like 68-70 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Install a programmable thermostat. If you’re back at the office and school during the day, a programmable thermostat can help lower your energy bills by keeping the house cool during the day and warming it up by the time you get home.
If you need more help with savings tips, be sure to give us a call!
Try The Cookie of New Mexico
It’s always fun to try a new recipe during the holiday season. And lifelong lovers of biscochitos will urge you to try the delightful cookie this holiday season.
And while there is debate in the Land of Enchantment whether to spell it biscochito or bizcochito, one thing is certain: they are delicious. The Santa Fe New Mexican, the daily paper in the cookie’s rumored hometown, reported that New Mexico was the first state to have an official cookie and that their name, biscochito, is the diminutive form of the Spanish word for biscuit, or bizcocho.7
The cookie is said to have its roots in the 16th century and brings together flavors from both the New Mexico Pueblos and the Spanish colonists. While the cookie can be consumed any time, it is traditionally reserved for the holiday season and special occasions.8
What you’ll need:
- 5 to 6 cups of all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon of baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 pound room-temperature lard (Snow Cap is recommended)
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 large eggs
- 1½ tablespoons ground anise seeds
- ½ cup orange juice, fresh or from concentrate
- 2 tablespoons of your favorite whiskey
For the topping:
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ teaspoon ground cinnamon
How you’ll make the cookies, according to New Mexico Magazine:9
- Preheat oven to 425° Fahrenheit.
- Sift together 5 cups flour, baking powder, and salt.
- Beat the lard with an electric mixer, and gradually add in sugar until the mix is extremely light and fluffy. This should take about 8 minutes. Stop mixer every couple of minutes to scrape down sides of mixing bowl.
- Add eggs one at a time, beating in each one before adding the next.
- Mix in dry ingredients, beating only until incorporated.
- Add anise seeds, whiskey, and orange juice. A stiff, pie crust-like dough is what you’re after.
- Add some – or all – of the remaining cup of flour, as needed, to get proper consistency.
- Roll out the dough about ¼ inch thick on floured work surface and cut into favorite shapes. Avoid handling the dough more than necessary.
- Arrange the cookies on ungreased cookie sheets.
- Bake 12 to 15 minutes.
While this recipe is not vegan, you can swap the lard with vegetable shortening and the eggs with egg replacements, like Bob’s Red Mill egg replacer, to make it vegan. Either way, enjoy your biscochitos with a nice cup of coffee or a glass of milk.
The Habit Quiz
Let’s see what we know about habits:
- What percentage of everyday actions are enacted habitually while thinking about something else?10
- Habits can be broken by controlling the ______ that trigger behavior.10
- On average, how many days does it take to change a habit?11
- True or False: Once we break a habit, our brain forgets it.11
- C – 43%
- A – Cues
- D – 66
DEAN, JACOBSON FINANCIAL SERVICES
Securities and Retirement Plan Consulting Program advisory services offered through LPL Financial, a Registered Investment Advisor, member FINRA/SIPC. Other advisory services and investment advice offered through Dean, Jacobson Financial Services, LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor, and separate entity from LPL Financial.
*The views expressed are offered through Dean, Jacobson Financial Services, and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the firm or its advisors, nor those of LPL Financial. These views should not be construed as investment advice. Please contact advisors at Dean, Jacobson Financial Services for specific questions or explanations on interpreting this information for your personal circumstances.
This material was prepared by Carson Coaching. Carson Coaching is not affiliated with the named broker/dealer or firm.