Five Tricks to Make Behavioral Changes Stick

1. Think about how you made other changes in the past. All of us have accomplished

major life changes in the past (or we would all still be in Miss Marsh’s class learning fractions). Each of us has a different way of approaching those sorts of changes, but we all eventually accomplished some form of major change. Use your knowledge of what you did in the past to inform how you should make the change in the present. Then modify what you are doing to make it fit previous successful change efforts.

2. Harness the power of your desires. You have an image of what you want the rest of your life to be like. The reason part of you wants to make a change is because the change will get you closer to that ideal self-image. To make behavior change easier, you need to keep that image foremost in your mind when making decisions. Most decisions are based on mindless calculations about comfort and convenience. Try to change those decisions to conscious choices based on your goals and self-image.

3. Make the best choice the easy choice. If you are trying to get out of debt, having ten credit cards in your wallet is often a big impediment to reducing your spending. Cutting up the credit cards and making it harder to buy expensive things or buy things on impulse can really help you out. In the same way, the food that you buy and bring into the house will largely determine what you eat. So look at your shopping cart at checkout and see if that is who you want to be.

4. Check yourself. Have a measurable component to your goal, so that you will be able to see what progress you are making towards that goal. Daily bank balances, daily food diaries or daily exercise charts are a great way to see the effects of your efforts. It’s hard to avoid speeding if your speedometer is broken. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.

5. Involve others. Making someone else, or many other people aware of the change you are instituting will make you more likely to stick with your plan. People who set goals privately and don’t tell anyone have a much easier time forgetting the whole thing after a few days because there will be no social cost to doing this. If you want to impress the people around you with your resolve, call your shot in advance.

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