Hacking Your Brain & Your Systems to Create Change

Niki Milbert | Customer Education

As another year comes to a close the inevitable happens, our minds go into overdrive on all the mistakes made this year and how we're going to right them.

Next Year is going to be DIFFERENT! I'm going to become a whole new ME!

The problem is, we rarely make it two weeks before our old habits track us down. According to Forbes, "approximately 80% of New Year's resolutions fail". That statistic certainly isn't bolstering my faith. So, why is it that so many people struggle with implementing the changes they say they want?

As detailed in the book Atomic Habits by James Clear, it all comes down to your systems:

If you're having trouble changing your habits, the problem isn't you. The problem is your system.

Bad habits repeat themselves not because you don't want to change but because you have the wrong system for change.

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.

If we hold this to be true, then the pathway toward an improved future is to address the systems we have in place.

The most common New Year Resolutions revolve around 2 topics: Finances and Well Being. Everyone wants to be richer, more secure, healthier, and more confident but few of us put in the consistent work to meet our true potential.

In keeping with James' belief on systems, lets look at some tools we can use to improve our systems around Finances and Well Being.

Technology: These days, technology infiltrates practically every area of our lives but most of us don't take advantage of it's full potential. There's a large portion of us that use our phones mainly for communication and entertainment, but what if we used them as a tool for improving our systems and our lives? To make implementing a new habit easier, I suggest employing an app geared toward the area you'd like to improve.

Don't Break The Chain: In Atomic Habits, James discusses the method, Don't Break The Chain. The belief is simple; even if you only focus on not breaking the chain of a new habit instead of the quality, you're bound to improve in that area and reinforce the new behavior.

Habit Stacking: Another tool from Atomic Habits is Habit Stacking. This system relies on using an existing habit as a trigger for establishing a new habit. For example, if you want to start taking a daily vitamin find an existing habit to pair it with. Each morning I wake up and brush my teeth, it's an automatic behavior. I decide, after brushing my teeth, I will take my daily vitamin. This way, the new habit won't get lost in the chaos of your day, you know exactly when to execute the new habit, and don't have to think about it.

Eventually, taking your daily vitamin becomes automatic.

Now let's look at some actionable ways to incorporate these tools.


Budgeting can be extremely burdensome, and I'll admit it, not very fun. However, creating a budget can actually be freeing. Budgeting gives us the financial freedom to work toward the goals WE set and not be a slave to the circumstances of our lives. It's an investment in yourself and your future!


Budgeting - The following article from Nerd Wallet is a fantastic resource for finding a budgeting app. Just make sure that whatever you choose works for you. If you don't like the app, no matter how well rated it is, you're not going to use it.

The 8 Best Budget Apps for 2022 - NerdWallet

Cutting Costs on Eating Out - The USDA estimates 55% of food costs in 2021 came from eating out, that's a huge amount! Often, we resort to eating out as a result of our poor planning. Make mealtimes cheaper, easier & healthier, by leveraging a Meal Planning App.

The 11 Best Meal Planning Apps to Help You Lose Weight (

Don't Break The Chain

Paying Down Debt - If Paying down debt is one of your goals for the new year why not apply the "Don't Break The Chain" method. Set a goal of making a payment, even just $5 dollars, every single day. You'll be surprised by how quick the little payments add up!

Cutting Costs on Eating Out - As we all know, eating out can be a huge hit to the wallet and is currently a big part of most of our lives. Make it a point to cook at home more. Could you commit to cooking at home every weeknight? Or go big and commit to eating every meal at home except 1 cheat meal? Whatever you decide, make sure you have a plan, such as using a Meal Planning App referenced earlier, to avoid Breaking The Chain!

Habit Stacking

Saving - This habit stack incorporates a bit of technology. There are quite a few checking accounts out there, like GBC's Choice Checking Account, which allow you to round up debit card purchases into your linked savings account. Since we all use Debit Cards on a daily basis, why not stack that "habit" with an opportunity to save?!

Well Being

Taking Care of our Physical & Mental Well Being is so important but unfortunately, it's often an afterthought. With so many responsibilities and competing priorities, we tend to put ourselves last and never "get around to" focusing on our health.


Full Body Health - In my opinion, it's imperative to not only address the physical but the mental wellbeing also. The article below provides a variety of recommended apps across multiple health categories.

The 9 Best Health Apps of 2022 | livestrong

Physical Fitness - If you're strictly interested in improving your Physical Fitness, the below article from Forbes details some of the Best Fitness Apps.

Best Fitness Apps Of 2022 - Forbes Health

Don't Break The Chain

Getting Active - We've all been there, "I only have time for a 5 minute walk, it's not even worth it". That's a lie we tell ourselves. Any activity is an improvement to our physical fitness. Whether you work out for an hour or take a brisk 5-minute walk, commit to not Breaking The Chain of being active. Remember, all those small improvements add up!

Habit Stacking

Meditating - Meditation is one of the best things you can do for your mental health; it lowers stress, increases mindfulness, aids in reducing memory loss, and so many more benefits. Try adding meditation to your morning routine by stacking it with an automatic task you do right when you wake up. Beginning your day by centering yourself will improve your outlook on everything to come.

Increase Water Intake - It is recommended that you drink half your weight in ounces a day, though I doubt most of us even get close to meeting the recommended daily value. To increase your water intake try stacking it with another necessary task, like taking a break from work… every time you take a break, drink ½ a glass of water.

As you can see, there are so many ways to make lasting improvements to our lives. Every idea detailed above is just a suggestion. I encourage you to take the tools discussed and find ways to employ them in your life.

Whatever resolutions you make, habits you commit to or improvements you work toward in 2023, an investment in yourself and your future is NEVER wasted!

Happy New Year!

About GBC

Georgia Banking Company (GBC) is a full-service, commercial community bank headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. GBC's team of veteran bankers know their communities and are focused on leveraging technology to deliver an exceptional service experience to meet the needs of growing businesses and private banking clients. The bank also offers a unique suite of mortgage products to independent mortgage bankers across the nation. Visit to learn more.

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