By Dr. Mallika Marshall


BOSTON (CBS) – By mid-February, many people have given up on their New Year’s resolutions, but researchers say while it takes more than sheer willpower to make lasting changes, there are some strategies you can use to break your bad habits.

Behavioral science experts at Harvard and The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania say it’s becoming increasingly difficult to practice self-control, with junk food becoming tastier and cheaper and technology at our fingertips to both entertain and tempt us. But they say putting in place incentives and obstacles can help us stay on track.

Examples or obstacles include keeping junk food out of the house or using apps that restrict your phone usage. Using an “If-Then” plan can be an incentive. For example, if I don’t order food out this week, then I can buy those new shoes I want.

Sometimes having someone else implement a strategy is effective.

For example, if your electricity company shows you your energy usage is higher than your neighbor’s, you’re more likely to turn your lights off when you leave a room.

Dr. Mallika Marshall

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