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6 Ways to Make a Good Habit Stick

Follow through on your goals and be sure you stick with them with these practical tips.

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1. Know What You Want – and Really Want It

The odds of hanging on to a new habit improve when you’re motivated by self-interest. For example, think about how flossing leaves your mouth feeling clean and your teeth debris-free. It might even save you stress and money, with fewer trips to the dentist and smaller bills.


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2. Make it Easy

Going from zero to 60 is tough. Break down your goal, especially if you’re starting from scratch. Rather than declaring you’re going to run a 10-kilometre race this summer, decide to do 15 minutes of exercise every morning. Up the ante when your new habit becomes old.



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3. Create a Chain

Think of your new routine as a link in a chain. Hitch it to something you already do automatically, such as walking the dog, having a coffee or coming home from work. Make the sequence natural and tie related tasks together. 



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4. Hold Yourself Accountable

Once you’ve set a goal, spread the word. Meet a buddy for coffee to practice your French. If eating more fresh fruit is your aim, join forces with a co-worker to buy each other produce on alternate weeks. Social media and smart-phone apps can offer added support by cheering your success.


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5. Reward Yourself

Developing a good habit doesn’t need to be a chore. Reward yourself immediately and you’ll improve your chances of repeating the behaviour. Each time you go for a run, stick a gold star on your calendar. After a dozen, schedule a manicure or a massage, or contribute to your running-gear fund.


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6. Don’t Get Discouraged

A recent study found that a new pursuit took an average of 66 days to take hold. Researchers also found that missing a day shouldn’t scuttle your attempt at change. Just pick up where you left off.


(Photo: iStockphoto/Thinkstock)