MAKE IT STICK: KEEPING POSITIVE HABITS.

Author:Meis, Cecilia
 
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We feel it every year: January arrives with a clean slate, a fresh opportunity to take a cold, hard look at our lives and and slice out the bad habits while making an attempt to build upon better ones.

That's the point of this whole issue of the magazine. But we produce a similar issue every year at this time.

So seriously, how many years in a row are we going to promise to hit the gym and cut out that Friday drive thru habit?

Human behavior researchers are always looking for new and better ways to help us overcome those flaws that make us, well, human. But you may be surprised (or not) to know that these same researchers are some of the worst at following their own advice-so says Wendy Wood, a psychology professor at the University of Southern California.

"My father (who was a physicist) used to comment, 'Scientists who study gravity still fall down.' Understanding something is not the same as controlling it in your own life," Wood says.

The difference, of course, is that these researchers are more consistently exposed to tried-and-tested ways to overcome and replace bad habits. The first step, of course, is acknowledging when you're off course. Maybe one cheat day turned into a cheat week and now you don't know the last time you've eaten something that didn't come from the freezer section.

Entrepreneurs can be the worst offenders. With a passionate arsenal of rationalizations, self-care habits are some of the first to go. It's important to remember why you chose these habits in the first place. For example, raising your heart rate every day can quite literally extend your life. After a quick motivation reminder, move onto our list of time-tested habit enforcers below.

THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE CONSISTENT

Wood found that by pairing a negative and positive experience together, she was not only better able to stick to good habits, but she actually learned to enjoy what was once a negative experience. For example, after a long day at the office, many people aren't thrilled about another 30 minutes on the stair climber. Intead, pair that dreaded 30 minutes with an episode of Working Moms that you were planning to watch from the couch. If you dread putting together a monthly expense report, take the work to your favorite restaurant or outdoor venue with live music.

Habit building can feel grueling at times, but it doesn't have to be. Pair it with activities, people and places that already bring you joy. In turn, you'll build a habit that you...

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