Monday, July 21, 2014

To change yourself, first change your environment

People who are not good in personal finance are usually in the presence of people who are not good in personal finance too. Birds of the same feather flock together, so they say. I think this phenomenon is due largely to the fact that we like to be with people who are similar to us, so that there isn't a lot of peer pressure to match up to the group's average. Imagine you are thrifty, but you are in the presence of people who do not care two hoots how much they spent on. You'll find that you'll have this pressure for you to act like one of them too, unless you truly don't care about their company (which might be a luxury you do not have, because of work related reasons).

It's really easy to say we should spend less and know our needs from our wants and other very sound advice given by financial bloggers, including me. But that's because we are already like that. It's like asking a sprinter how to run faster - he'll tell you to train on this area, do that every week and other great advice, but ultimately, one cannot help but think if the sprinter can run fast because he puts himself in an environment where there are other sprinters all doing the same thing. I'm not saying it doesn't take hard work to reach his stage of growth, but it's made all the easier to train the way he does by being in a group of people who are doing the same thing. It takes away the will power that we have to expend doing something different from the others in your peer group. By putting yourself in an environment where you want to grow to become, you become that environment yourself.

Up to a point though. This is not exact science, but I think part of that motivation for change comes from within, as well as without. You can put yourself in an environment where you want to grow towards, but if you really don't want to change, no force in nature can make you change.

To sum up:

1. If you're disciplined and super motivated, you can grow to become whoever you model after, in spite of your environment.

2. If you're somewhat neutral and don't mind the change, you'll be better off changing your environment best suited to your change and following the crowd thereafter. E.g Join some mailing list with some financial blogger, fill your facebook friends with financial bloggers and remove people who are not in line with your new growth. How to even get all the motivation to do just that? I don't know, maybe something catastrophic happened in your life?

3. If you're not interested at all, and totally resistant to change, then it doesn't matter no matter the environment. Can't force a horse to drink even if you bring the water next to its mouth.

Since pt (1) won't hurt with a change of environment and pt (2) needs a change of environment, it's still a good bet to adjust the friends you hang out with and immerse yourself in an environment with the change you want to see in yourself.


My 15HWW said...

Hi LP,

It's interesting to note that most comments left on my blog are those by fellow finance bloggers.

The people who don't need to read what I write are doing it. Maybe that's what makes us who we are.

It's like seeing someone slim running and commenting that he doesn't need to. But then him running is exactly what made him that way.

la papillion said...

Hi 15HWW,

I'm always amused by this fact that we're writing to an audience who don't really need to know what we're writing. At least, not the knowledge part. I'll be reading other financial blogs for their experience in dealing with things - that's interesting to me.

But I guess only a small % of our readers will be those that wants to change their lifestyle.

Singapore Man of Leisure said...


We are all preaching to the choir boys ;)

It's fun listening, debating, and learning from those starting their journeys and those ending their journeys soon.

I've no desire to proselytise; it's more about "sharpening my own saw".

It starts by asking: "He got wear clothes meh?"


la papillion said...


I'll try to contribute to society and write articles that can help others. I started a blog wanting to jot down my thoughts, but as it grows, I realised that there are others who are once like me, trying to find some info on certain issues. If I can help them, it'll be good :) Good karma haha

Maybe one day I'll drop that desire too haha

Small Time Investor said...


Very true for birds of same feather flock together , when you're out working you see the same group of people talking same topics and spending same habits .

I chose to be a penguin though hehe :x

la papillion said...

Hi small time investor,

Haha, better don't anyhow use penguins these days because of the negative connotations associated with it ;)

Anonymous said...

Hello! Nice article you have there.
It is worse for me to find birds of same feathers as me because girls generally love dining out and traveling. I distanced myself from my colleagues because they really spend money like water! To save money I would decline after work activities like drinking and clubbing with them. I lost out on the bonding and bitching sessions with them but i got to keep my money and more time reading blogs like these. LOL
To some of my friends, i am the one that earns the most among them but is the most giam. Sad.
But they still stick around, so, ok lor.

Keep those articles coming!

la papillion said...

Hi caprichososhuz,

Are you a capricorn? You sure sounds like one lol

Rare to find a female blogging about finance. Do keep writing too!