One of the reasons people so often fail to stick with a new habit is because it’s overwhelming to make a huge change. If you decide you want to lose 50 pounds and you change your diet and start exercising, at first that feels great. But after a week of sweating on the treadmill and avoiding all your favorite food indulgences and not losing any weight, you eventually begin to feel frustrated.
The same is true with any huge change you want to make, especially those that are designed for long-term benefit that takes a while to see. You might notice this is true with changing habits that can benefit your brain health. You won’t be able to see the benefits right away, so changing your diet, adding exercise, getting more social activity, or challenging yourself with brain training need to have some immediate payoff.
How can you make lifestyle changes with long-term results have immediate payoff? Let yourself win. Set a goal for the day that there’s no way you can’t meet. Maybe you don’t have time to go to the gym, but you can walk once around the block or get off the train one stop early. Perhaps you don’t have time to cook a meal at home, but there’s no reason you can’t grab a salad for lunch instead of a burrito. Set yourself up for success and you might find yourself making better choices more and more frequently so you can just enjoy the good feelings that come along with meeting a small goal.