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As New Year’s resolutions begin to fade away, what are the best ways to ensure new habits stick?

Washington University psychology professor Henry “Roddy” Roediger joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss the psychology of making (and keeping) good habits.
Kelly Moffitt | St. Louis Public Radio
Washington University psychology professor Henry “Roddy” Roediger joined "St. Louis on the Air" to discuss the psychology of making (and keeping) good habits.";s:

Another January 1 has come and gone. Now we’ve entered the doldrums of February. So, how are those New Year’s resolutions going?

On Monday’s St. Louis on the Air, we discussed how to form habits that actually stick with Henry “Roddy” Roediger, a Washington University psychology professor. Roediger is co-author of “Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.”

“It is never too late to start a resolution: there is nothing special about New Year’s Day,” said Roediger. “Many people start at the beginning of a new month or even at the beginning of a new week.”

The number one issue people have when it comes to forming new habits, Roediger said, is that they only keep vague thoughts to themselves. The key is to be more open about your intention, drawing in partners and family members to hold yourself accountable.

Roediger also discussed six other tips for making sure habits you start last through the year.

1. State your intentioned habit with powerful verbs like “I commit” or “I am determined” rather than “I will try.”

2. Remind yourself throughout the day that you are committed to your resolution — not just in the morning.

3. Use physical cues to keep yourself away from bad behavior, like placing post-it notes on bad foods.

4. Consciously imagine how you will be when you’ve effectively implemented your goal or the actions of implementing the goal itself.

5. Find a like-minded group that is working toward a similar resolution or habit and join that group for moral support.

6. Don’t beat yourself up over missteps or setbacks on the road to completing your goal. Just don’t give up entirely: make a plan to get back at it.

Listen for more advice on how to implement good habits here:

St. Louis on the Air brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. St. Louis on the Air host Don Marsh and producers Mary EdwardsAlex Heuer and Kelly Moffitt give you the information you need to make informed decisions and stay in touch with our diverse and vibrant St. Louis region. 

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Kelly Moffitt joined St. Louis Public Radio in 2015 as an online producer for St. Louis Public Radio's talk shows St. Louis on the Air.

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