7 Tips for Sticking to New Habits in the New Year
The beginning of a New Year is an exciting time full of fresh ideas, energy, and resolutions. Although we have the best of intentions, however, the problem with resolutions is that they are often designed to fail since they commonly involve drastic, unrealistic habit change. Here are some simple strategies to not only start the year off on the right foot, but to stay on the path to sustainable improvement and achievable results.
Set Specific Goals
You want to do good in your community? That’s great! But that’s a very vague goal that won’t get you anywhere. Get specific, such as deciding to volunteer once a week at your neighborhood food pantry. Want to lose weight? Awesome! Pick an exact amount you want to lose and write out the steps you will take to achieve it.
Like really small. There is often an expectation that if a new goal is worthwhile, it should be hard to accomplish. But this is not so! In fact, habit research champions something called micro-habits. Starting small is a good thing, as highlighted by the Two-Minute Rule. Rather than committing to a new habit of daily meditation, instead commit to taking ten deep breaths each morning. Once you regularly achieve your micro-habit, then take it up a notch. This helps lessen the fear or failure and lays the foundation for the most important aspect of behavior change: showing up.
Make the Perfect Pair
When it comes to creating a new habit, there’s no need to re-write the book. An effective way to sustain a new behavior is by pairing it with a part of your routine that you already enjoy. “Habit-stacking” is a behavioral science technique that uses the power of positive associations to inspire change. Aka taking the path of least resistance. Trying to journal more regularly? Put pen to paper while you enjoy your morning cup of warm matcha.
Be a Tortoise, Not a Hare
Slow and steady wins the race. Many small steps in the right direction will get you to your goal, and gradual change is achievable while drastic change is not usually sustainable. You want to exercise five times a week instead of once a month? Start with twice a week in January, move to three times a week in February, and gradually increase your levels until you reach your goal. In this way, you can build new habits that you can practically incorporate into your routine and make a normal part of your life.
Break Down Bad Habits
If your resolution is to stop a bad habit, it’s helpful to stop and think about if there’s a way to take that habit and turn it into a healthier one. For example, if you enjoy taking a break every afternoon to drink a soda and eat potato chips, keep the habitual break and substitute water for the soda. Hate water? Add some lemon or Organic Berry Power™ Powder to it! After you’ve gradually given up the soda, instead of chips, grab a handful of nuts, some carrot sticks, or fruit. After a while, your bad habit will transform into a good one!
Even Olympic athletes have a bad day now and then. If you wanted to exercise three times a week and you only made it to the gym once, don’t fret. Be grateful for what you were able to do, and resolve to do better next week. Keep on stepping in the right direction, and even if you trip and take a step or two backward, don’t dwell on missteps. Give yourself grace, keep a positive attitude, keep your eyes on the prize, and you’ll stay motivated to get there.
Don’t Go It Alone
Asking for support and getting family and friends on board with your goal makes it way easier to accomplish. You might have a neighbor or friend that’s up for going for a morning walk with you three times a week. Ask your partner or spouse to stop bringing unhealthy food home from the store. Don’t be shy! Speak up — sometimes it takes a village to help us reach our goals.