Why we do things and why we do not do things is largely a function of our habits. We do not do things we like – we may have liked it the first time around, but now we do it because it is a habit. Most Americans do not contribute to a 401(k) plan because there is some effort in wanting to contribute. It is not the default option! If the default option was ‘investing in 401(k) plan, surely people would not take the trouble to discontinue – there is too much effort.
One useful idea in Stephen Covey’s book “The seven habits of Effective People” is the idea that our tasks all fall into four groups – Urgent & Important, Urgent & Not Important, Important & Not Urgent, and Not Important & Not Urgent.
Covey argues that the distinction we should make is whether something is important or not (tasks in the Important & Urgent and the Important & Not Urgent groups), but in practice we usually focus on the urgency instead (Urgent & Important and Urgent & Not Important).
We normally live from a crisis to another! So if you do not pay your electricity bill, you will be sleeping in the dark! If you do not pay your cell phone bill…!! However, if you do not play with your kids, if you do not pay attention to your weight, if you do not do financial planning, ….there is no immediate implication. So we do not even bother to see what is Important we will as a habit keep attending to whatever is urgent!!
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