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Eight tips to get off your path of least resistance

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John Nordell / The Christian Science Monitor / File

(Read caption) To boost your spare time, throw out your TV. That's tip No. 4 on hot to get off the path of least resistance.

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Most of the time, our lives function along a path of least resistance.

We give into social cues because it’s the easiest path, causing us to buy stuff we don’t need and lust after “premium” items.

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We don’t rock the boat at work because that’s the easiest path, causing us to run in place with our career.

We put our kids in the same activities everyone else puts their kids into, because it’s easier than figuring out what’s best for our specific child and finding activities that match that.

At the end of the day, we just flip on the television or the internet browser, because it’s easier than the other options.

Over and over again, we just follow the path of least resistance in our lives. But, as you can see, the path of least resistance usually doesn’t lead to success. We spend what we make. We don’t push ourselves to grow.

If you want to incorporate a positive change in your life, you need to alter your path of least resistance. Here are eight suggestions on how to do that.

Having trouble saving? Have your bank set up an automatic savings plan where a small amount is transferred from your checking account to your savings account each week or each month. That way, you don’t have to put forth any further effort to save.

Having trouble cutting your energy bill? Install a programmable thermostat and set it so that the air conditioning / furnace automatically turn off at night when you’re asleep and during the day when you’re at work.

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Having trouble eating healthy? Go through your cupboards, get rid of the junk food, and give it to a food pantry. Replace it with healthier stuff. This way, when you get the urge to munch, unhealthy food won’t be at hand.

Having trouble finding spare time? Take your television and throw it in the trash can. That’ll free up some time – after all, the average American spends 151 hours a month watching television.

Having trouble focusing on computer tasks? Block distracting websites so you can’t go there even if you’re tempted to. I do this myself during the work day, as I set up a collection of scripts to block several distracting sites.

Having trouble eating at home? Make lots of meals in advance so that you can come home to prepared or mostly-prepared meals. Make casseroles on the weekends and freeze them. Put them in the oven in the morning and set the timer so the meal will be done at 6:30. Get a slow cooker and do much the same thing. That way, when you’re on your way home and you think about eating out, you’ll remember you have a meal ready to eat at home.

Having trouble keeping grocery spending under control? Make a meal plan before you go to the store. From that plan, make a grocery list. Having a grocery list in hand makes it much easier to buy sensibly at the grocery store.

Having trouble getting together consistently with friends? Set up a regular “meal night” with a circle of friends so that they know that every (say) Wednesday night, they’re invited to dinner at your house – or someone’s house in the circle. Once this gets going, it’s automatic and effortless and a great way to keep your social circle going.

If you put up a little bit of work now so that the path of least resistance later on leads to better behavior, you’ll win.

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