Changing ingrained habits, of course, isn't easy. Sometimes it takes a major life event, such as a cancer diagnosis, as it did for Ruth Heidrich. But habits can also be changed with conscious effort. New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, found that changing a habit requires first identifying a cue, such as putting your running shoes on before breakfast, that your brain connects to going for a run. Then, he suggests rewarding yourself after the run, with a piece of chocolate or a long shower.
"There has to be some sort of reward at the end of the routine to make it a habit," he says. Exercise does contain its own reward, because people feel good after running, but he says it can take a few weeks for the brain to pick up on those internal rewards, which is why he suggests supplementing with a more obvious, external reward. "That's how the neurology learns to encode that behavior," he adds.
One worthy new habit might be earning supplemental income, even before retirement, to help fund those decades. Says Zuckerman: "Understand that there is no point in your life when you have to stop learning. Continue to read, try and learn and understand what is going in the world, and hopefully train yourself for other work."
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