Having that last big bite of Zinger Burger and last few slurps of Liho Mango Coco bubble tea feels absolutely satisfying. So does overspending and taking on unnecessary credit card loans. We know these habits are bad, but why do we still do them?
"Old Habits Die Hard"
It is a popular expression we hear every time someone tries to justify their inability to get rid of their bad habits.
You know that Makcik (Auntie in the Malay language) who still eats a large portion of Lontong with Kuah Lodeh everyday or that Uncle who had two Kosong for breakfast with a glass of Teh Tarik so sweet you cringe when you drink it. Yet, they struggle with a chronic case of diabetes.
As they say it, "Old Habits Die Hard"
I Wanna Feel Good Right Now..
Another reason would be that instant gratification is addictive.
I remembered whenever I had my first bite of Zinger Burger after a long tiring day; I would start to salivate, my mind would be fixated totally on savoring every bite, and nothing else mattered.
All I want is just to finish eating that piece of mouthwatering burger as fast as possible.
This is an example of instant gratification due to how my brain associate happiness with Zinger burgers. Ever since then, I started thinking about Zinger burgers whenever I feel sad, tired, or stress after work.
And, that is how a bad habit is formed.
Everyone one of us would go through the same process before we start turning harmful behaviors into bad habits.
Whether it is smoking, drinking, gambling and other things that may ruin our lives, we tend to look at what makes us feel good "right now" and not think about its repercussions.
Bad Habits Have Bad Consequences
Of course, bad habits can be related to anything. The main concern is that the habits will lead to harmful consequences or cause discomfort to ourselves or others.
There are bad habits that may have an irreversible consequence too. For example, having the habit of crossing the road while using your phone and not waiting for the green light.
Well, we know that cats may still die if they are hit by a fast-moving car, even if they are believed to have 9 lives and are more agile compared to us.
We Make Most Decisions Unconsciously
Here's one interesting fact: The last few tasks or actions you did were probably done unconsciously.
Even when you're unlocking your phone to check on your social media feed or to watch random cringey TikTok videos, you are not really making the decision consciously.
Of course lah, we are awake, and we are not possessed by some pervert paedophilic demon who enjoys watching teenage girls or boys dancing on TikTok.
I'm not talking about whether we are in a state of consciousness or not, but rather, it's about the way our brain works when we decide to do things.
According to some research done by some scientists at Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, they have come to a conclusion that:
"Many processes in the brain occur automatically and without the involvement of our consciousness. This prevents our minds from being overloaded by simple routine tasks. But when it comes to decisions, we tend to assume they are made by our conscious mind. This is questioned by our current findings."
If you'd like to understand more about how we make decisions and how our conscious and subconscious part of our brain plays an important role, you can read more about it at Psychology Today
See? That means that most of the time, we do things out of habit, and that habit is formed unconsciously. We just do it without thinking much about it, isn't it?
And most of the time, it's really not a good idea to have such habits...
Regret Is The Best Form Of Lesson
I remembered when I first got my first pay as a Process Technician; it felt like I'm the wealthiest person in the world!
Imagine a 23-year-old guy who had been living all his life totally dependent on the few dollars of pocket money his mum gave to him to buy food or to buy some school related stuff and after working for a month - "FI-NA-LLY!", For the first time ever, I saw 4 digit numbers showing on my bank account balance!
Who wouldn't be superbly ecstatic!?
The first thing I did was to put aside some money for my parents, saving some for marriage (with my ex at that time), and the rest for my own expenditure.
I started going on holidays. I spent on clothes, a gaming laptop, branded earpiece, shoes, bags, and lots of nice foods. I got myself a motorcycle too. Well, I spent mostly on nice foods.
Nothing could make me smile wide and forget about all my problems (for a while) than eating delicious foods at a nice restaurant or café.
Yeah, I'm the kind of guy who rather spends on food than on physical items.
Here's when the problem started...
During my commute to work, I kept getting enticed by DBS credit card promotions and benefits shown on banners posted on walls of local shopping centers.
Sometimes, I even saw videos about DBS credit cards being played repeatedly on the small TV screen at the top corners inside of the MRT trains.
I learned that I could purchase any items that cost 2-3 times more than what I earned for my salary!
I mean, come on....for just a $100 a month payment plan, I could get something worth more than $5k? That sounds like a reasonable offer!
And that was the defining moment when I succumbed to my inner lust, which had brought me into a world of chaos, anxiety, and depression.
Borrowed Money To Make More Money..Not A Good Idea
I started getting addicted...
I wanted more money, and I wanted it fast.
I thought about setting up businesses to get passive income and quick cash. I joined courses, MLMs, tried online trading schemes, and well..I lost more money than I could make, really.
I went from taking credit card loans to taking on loans from legal moneylenders, who charged higher interest rates just so that I could get the money in cash immediately.
Until one day, I realized I had to loan money to pay for the money I owed, and the business I had set up didn't grow as fast as I expected.
Banks started chasing after me every month. Credit card interest rates and late payment fees were making it impossible to afford to pay on time - That was why I borrowed money from Legal MoneyLenders.
Then again, I also couldn't pay them on time. Then, the moneylenders started chasing me for the money I owed them too!
Gosh...I have never felt so stressed in my life. But, I played it cool in front of my friends and family - making them think that I am still living the life I have always wanted.
3 Years Later..
"Sorry..I pay later can?..Not enough for now. Please understand," I put down the phone and let out a huge sigh. I looked at my bank account and felt like my life has no future. I have forgotten how many times have I replied the banks and moneylenders the same damn thing over and over again.
At the rate I was going, it felt like I could never ever repay back my loan. I felt horrible.
But, luckily, with patience, support from my family , and a change of mindset, I managed to pay a considerable sum of my debt and stopped taking unnecessary loans. The banks and moneylenders finally stopped calling me every few days.
I had given up the idea of making money fast because it was causing me and my family to be in so much distressed. To me, it was a kind of problem that I could easily avoid, but due to my own poor judgement as self-control, I had to go through a lot of trouble.
I'm just glad that I am not affected badly to the point of bankruptcy and depression because, honestly, moneylenders and banks don't give a S**T about your mental or emotional well-being.
Their job is to squeeze you until you break so you will "die-die" pay back what you owe.
This is my advice to everyone who is just starting out in working life or business out there.
You might be just like me 5-6 years ago—someone who was given some freedom without guidance and self-control.
Don't listen to your inner desires. You might feel like getting a small amount of loan or installment plan is manageable, but having that mindset is dangerous.
You will start to get addicted, and your ability to know what is wrong or right will be numbed by your addiction.
The huge amount of money you receive from a loan may make you feel invincible for a while, but do not be fooled by the numbers.
Never get into the habit of borrowing money for instant pleasure. Never sell your soul to the devil either...if you know what I mean.
At the end of the day, you have to find ways to pay it back through any means necessary, and sometimes, it may be through ways that will haunt you for life.
Overspending or poor financial management might have almost ruined my life.
I am still considered lucky to escape a far greater ordeal because we all know that there are people who have to deal with a poor physical health state on top of their financial problems in our community.
Yet, I see some of these people do no try to improve their quality of life.
Suppose we do our best to develop ourselves in terms of our working related skills and knowledge, learn how to manage our finances, and even try to improve our Health and Fitness condition. In that case, we will surely live a better quality of life, isn't it?
Zaid Omar is the founder and writer of this blog.. He is someone who values being the best version of himself with regards to his Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, and Spiritual aspects.