How Best to Beat Temptation

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The worst thing about minor choices is that eventually, they all add up. You buy one Funko Pop and before you know it, you've got whole rooms devoted to them. Self-control is a lot less fun, but it's far more likely to pay off in the long run. Luckily, there are some tried and true (and now peer-reviewed) ways to keep yourself on track.

Researchers from Finland and Germany have just released a study on a psychological concept known as "self-nudging." In short, it's a method of setting yourself up for success in both physical and mental situations. If you can design your environment (or your response to a stimulus) in a way that points you toward your desired outcome, rather than the easy outcome, you'll go a lot farther on goals you've set for yourself.

The researchers have outlined four key ways you can integrate self-nudging into your routines.

  1. Leaving yourself prompts and reminders. This can be as simple as putting notes on a door or an object you use every day.
  2. Choosing a different framing. Taking the stairs becomes an opportunity to improve your health, rather than an inconvenience.
  3. Reducing accessibility to the tempting thing. You know the opposite works, given all the things you might pick up in the checkout aisle.
  4. Asking for social pressure and public accountability. Post a goal on social media so your friends and family can cheer you on.

It takes a while to build new habits and change old mindsets (according to some studies, it's about 66 days), but these small shifts in perspective should accumulate and settle over time.