5 Minutes With a Money Luminary ... Behavior Change Coach Marshall Goldsmith

5 Minutes With a Money Luminary ... Behavior Change Coach Marshall Goldsmith

51P+xSxWDJLIn our Money Luminary series, we’re serving up fresh insight from a financial thought leader of the moment.

Today, we sit down with Marshall Goldsmith, a leading executive coach whose new book looks at embracing better habits through behavior change.

Welcome to what we at LearnVest have dubbed the “six-month money mark.”

That’s right: You’ve officially been working on those lofty New Year’s resolutions for half a year now.

But whether you resolved to cook more at home or max out your retirement account by year’s end, you’ve probably found that better habits don’t always come easy.

And you’re probably not alone.

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After more than 30 years working with clients—including plenty of Fortune 500 C.E.O.s—business coach and best-selling author Marshall Goldsmith knows that everyone struggles to adopt better behaviors.

So for those who do succeed, what’s their secret?

According to Goldsmith—and many other behavior change pros—they implement key prompts that nudge them to act in a certain way. Scratching your head right now? Well, Goldsmith’s new book, “Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts,” delves into how to do just that.

Eager to hear more, we asked him to share three of his favorite strategies for keeping financial habits on track.

1. Rely on Written Rules You’ve had your resolution in mind since January 1. Maybe you even committed it to paper—research from Dominican University shows that those who write down their goals are more likely to succeed.

But to further bolster your progress at this time of year, Goldsmith suggests taking it one step further by jotting down the actions you aim to achieve.

For example, if your overall goal is to amass a down payment for a home, don’t write simply “save more.” Instead, sketch out specific moves that can help you get there, such as “I’m not going to eat out more than once a week” or “I’m going to sock away any bonuses I receive this year.”

Keep these mantras top of mind and “start every morning by rereading your rules,” Goldsmith says.

“Why does every Hollywood star have a personal trainer? They know they won’t stick to their goals on their own.”

2. Kick Off a “Daily Question Challenge” A big component of success is to assess your progress, Goldsmith says—ideally by gauging your growth with a “daily question challenge.”

Start by brainstorming several questions that reflect your financial goals. Then rephrase each one into a “Did I do my best ...?” format.

Instead of asking yourself, “Did I overspend today?,” opt for “Did I do my best to avoid unnecessary spending today?”

Run through these queries every day, ranking yourself from 0 to 10—and record your daily scores.

“The daily question process really forces people to take responsibility for their own choices and behavior,” Goldsmith explains. After all, your assessment is no longer based on how well you performed—which you could excuse with outside factors—but how much you tried.

3. Get Help Even behavior change experts can’t do it alone. In fact, Goldsmith has a friend call every day to ask Goldsmith about his daily questions.

But you can use whatever method works best for you, whether that’s syncing with a family member about your successes and struggles, or using a financial planner who can help keep you accountable.

“After all, why does every Hollywood star have a personal trainer? Because they know they won’t stick to their goals on their own,” Goldsmith says. “Getting help greatly improves our chances of success.”

RELATED: Behavior Change Showdown: 3 Experts on What It Takes to Banish Bad Money Habits

Marshall Goldsmith is Marshall Goldsmith is a best-selling author and business coach who has been recognized as one of the top ten Most Influential Management Thinkers.

LearnVest Planning Services is a registered investment adviser and subsidiary of LearnVest, Inc., that provides financial plans for its clients. Information shown is for illustrative purposes only and is not intended as investment, legal or tax planning advice. Please consult a financial adviser, attorney or tax specialist for advice specific to your financial situation. Unless specifically identified as such, the individuals interviewed or quoted in this piece are neither clients, employees nor affiliates of LearnVest Planning Services, and the views expressed are their own. LearnVest Planning Services and any third parties listed, linked to or otherwise appearing in this message are separate and unaffiliated and are not responsible for each other’s products, services or policies.

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