When it comes to forming new habits, Jeremy Dean, author of Making Habits, Breaking Habits, suggests tapping into your unconscious mind’s vulnerability to external triggers by creating physical “reminders” of your goal and hiding them around your house, car and office to encourage you to stick with it. Psychologists have found that this strategy (called “priming”) can be surprisingly powerful. In a Dutch study, for example, restaurant patrons who were given menus containing words that reminded them of their weight-loss goal were more likely to order the healthy menu choices, like dishes containing steamed fish and salad, and less likely to order high-calorie options like burgers and fries
How can you make priming work for you? If you’re trying to eat healthier, stash photos of fresh produce in places you’ll often come across them (like in cupboards with your canned goods, in your car’s glove compartment and between books at your desk). Or write health-related words like “fresh,” “homemade” or “nutritious” on sticky notes and tack them to your computer, mirror and refrigerator, suggests Dean. Even once you stop consciously noticing these “reminders,” they’ll prime your unconscious mind to act in ways that align with the cues.
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