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22 tips for 2022: Start, and stick with, a new habit

Becky Harlan/NPR
Becky Harlan/NPR

To build a new habit that actually sticks, make sure you're having fun.

Say you want to start a gym routine. Just ask yourself: What's the most fun thing I could do at the gym? Maybe it's Zumba; maybe it's spinning while you watch TV — whatever you think is fun.

"Here's what happens," says behavioral scientist Katy Milkman. "The people who choose the fun way to pursue their goal persist longer, because they like it. So maybe you don't get as much out of every workout ... but they come back."

Milkman says the fun approach, which she calls the "Mary Poppins effect," works for lots of different kinds of habits — study habits, exercise, healthy eating.

"We get it with kids," she says. "It has to be fun, or they won't do their chores. They won't do the things we're asking them to do. We're wired the same way as kids."


Here's more on how to make lasting change in your life.

22 tips for 2022 is edited and curated by Dalia Mortada, Arielle Retting, Janet W. Lee, Beck Harlan, Beth Donovan and Meghan Keane. This tip comes from an episode of Life Kit hosted by Elise Hu and produced by Clare Lombardo.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.