To Change a Habit, Get Specific

Photo by Elina Mark; Wikimedia Commons

Photo by Elina Mark; Wikimedia Commons

Researchers have long known that we are more likely to change a habit when we define a specific goal (like “eat more fruits and vegetables”) rather than a vague direction (“get healthier”).

Beyond that, researchers have now shown us that if we can attach specific and meaningful labels or images to the outcomes we wish to see, this will increase our motivation for change. For example, it is a lot more motivating to work toward the day when you can sit on the floor and play with your grandchildren, move around the tennis court more easily, or shop for a smaller pant size rather than a generic outcome (“be healthy”).

To consider how to apply this principle to your money habits, check out

How can you get as specific as possible about the healthy outcomes you’d like to see?


2 thoughts on “To Change a Habit, Get Specific

  1. You could probably write down a specific weight goal you’d like to reach, a distance that you’d like to be able to run (like a 5-k), or an amount of weight you would like to lift in the gym.
    The slow progress you see toward these goals might encourage you to complete them.

  2. I have a friend who has this image of himself playing softball with his nieces and nephews–somethign he is not able to do now because of his weight. It’s a very motivating image for him, and he tries to call it to mind when he is faced with tempting foods that he probably shouldn’t eat.

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