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It’s easy to recommend lots of changes you can make to help your brain health and lower your risk of dementia. But actual changing, and making those changes stick, can be hard. How do you turn a good intention into a regular habit? 

What you can do 

We tend to set ourselves vague goals. “I should exercise more.” “I’ll try and get better sleep.” It’s hard to act on those goals because there’s nothing concrete about them. You can make your goals more doable by making them SMART:  

  • Specific: What exactly do I want to accomplish? 
  • Measurable: How will I know when I have accomplished it? What markers of progress will I look for along the way?  
  • Achievable: What do I need to do to meet this goal? Is this within my reach? 
  • Realistic: Do I have access to the resources I will need? 
  • Timely: When exactly do I expect to achieve this goal? 

For each of your goals, write down answers to the SMART questions. Now your goal is concrete. You’re ready to go. 

Start simple. Make gradual changes until the new behaviour becomes part of your routine. Trying to change too many things at once can be overwhelming. 

Build on what you know. Build new behaviours into your existing routine, rather than starting from scratch. 

Enlist help. Share your goals with friends and family, to help keep you accountable and motivated. 

Choose activities you enjoy. Choose an activity you like and are interested in to increase your motivation and make the goal more achievable. 

Track your progress. Check in with your SMART questions from time to time to keep you motivated. Don’t be discouraged if progress is slower than you would like. Any progress is good progress. 

Use rewards. Set small incentives along the way to keep you motivated. 

Be kind to yourself. However it’s going, you’re working on your health, and that’s already a success.

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Last updated
18 December 2023