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Need some help kicking those bad habits? You're not alone

Need some help kicking those bad habits? You're not alone

Starting a new behavior and dropping the bad habits can be tough, as millions of people can testify every year. In the hope of achieving our goals, we turn to technology, apps, new exercise equipment, new gyms, books and blogs, and eventually burnout. Basically, we try everything, and still mostly fall off the wagon.

The potential upside to mastering the art of bad habit-kicking is huge: weight loss, better eating, increased energy, more confidence, more money. It’s no wonder we continue trying to succeed. And no wonder that scientists have spent years trying to solve this problem.


Thankfully there may be a straightforward solution. James Clear, productivity expert and author of “Atomic Habits”, says the answer is to punish ourselves immediately for bad habits, rather than waiting for future benefits.

For example, if you want to stick to your exercise plan, sign a “habit contract” with a good friend, partner and gym instructor to say that you will go to the gym 3 times a week for 45 minutes and drink 2 litres of water every day. If you don’t do those things, you will be required to pay your gym instructor £50 immediately and wash up every day for a week.

This is similar to Stikk, a website that helps people achieve their goals by signing Commitment Contracts with millions of others. Users state a goal they want to achieve (such as lose a stone in a month), are assigned a peer supporter who holds them accountable, and can also put down some money (e.g. £100). They then state what will happen to the money if they don’t stick to their commitments (e.g. it will go to someone they don’t like).

According to Stikk, people are five times more likely to stick to their goals if they follow a loss-aversion method. With an 87% success rate for financial goals and 73% for weight loss goals, it’s clearly a method which works.


Both ideas are based on the latest research on behavior and psychology. Placing your money or reputation on the line raises the cost of failing. This increases your motivation to stick to your goals. 

iF you’re looking for a science-based system to help you kick your bad habits, why not try one of these methods. You’ve got nothing to lose (as long as you stick to your commitment!)


the author

Kath Webb

Kath is a contributing writer for Hussle. Football, running, weight training, yoga and walking are her forte, along with cooking tasty, nutritious food - with a regular batch of cake chucked in.