Changing our behavior for the better can be challenging. Many of us struggle to stick with the goals and resolutions we set for ourselves: lose weight, eat healthier, meditate more, get angry less.

We asked a team of scientists a few questions about behavior change, and we will be sharing their answers to our questions over the next few months.

This month’s question: What is the one thing all people who excel at behavior change have in common?

Here’s what a few of them had to say.


According to Martin Seligman, Ph.D., most change requires conscious, deliberative planning in order to be effective and long term. This means that those who are successful at sticking to positive behavior change are focused on the future outcome—they plan for the future.

“Future-mindedness is often crucial. Present-mindedness blocks change,” says Seligman, Zellerbach Family Professor of Psychology, Director of the Positive Psychology Center, and Director of the Master of Applied Positive Psychology program at the University of Pennsylvania.


While it’s important to be future-minded, according to Angela Duckworth, Ph.D., it is important to also remain self-aware in the moment. “If you understand your current limitations and your strengths, you can make progress. If you are blissfully unaware, however, you won’t have the motivation to change. So, as the saying goes, ‘know thyself,’” says Duckworth, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Co-Director of the Behavior Change for Good Initiative at the University of Pennsylvania, and founder and CEO of Character Lab.


Enjoying the process and the outcomes are also an important characteristic of those who are successful at behavior change, says Ayelet Fishbach, Ph.D.

“They enjoy being the new person they are. They like what they’re doing, and they like who they are [becoming]. For example, the person feels healthier, enjoys their time at the gym, and doesn’t much miss the person they were before the change,” says Fishbach, Jeffrey Breakenridge Keller Professor of Behavioral Science and Marketing at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Want to change your behavior for good once and for all? Join 24 Hour Fitness and 47 world-class scientists to explore and understand what makes behavior change stick. The 28-day StepUp Program is free to 24 Hour Fitness members. Sign up at

Photo credit: Marion Michele, Unsplash