I’ve written and spoken about New Year’s resolutions countless times. My main messages relating to New Year’s resolutions are:
- They tend to fail because we make too many, or ones that are too big
- New habits can be formed any time of year, not just in January
Rather than making too many, or making ones that are too big, and rather than focusing on the new year, break down your goals into small pieces, and focus on one for the 21 days it takes to form a habit. Then another. And another. All year long. Even if the habits are tiny, all those habits will add up to big changes – that stick!
Because New Year’s resolutions are a thing, many articles on the subject are published each year just before or after January 1. The New York Times published a helpful piece this past January. Because changes can, and should, be made throughout the year, the article’s steps to set ourselves up for successful New Year’s resolutions are useful all year. Here are a few:
Do it every day. Habits…form faster when we do them more often. Filling a water bottle daily so you drink more water or taking a brisk walk after dinner are two examples of healthy habits that are easily repeated every day.
Make it easy. We are more likely to form new habits when we reduce “friction” — the distance, time and effort it takes to try something new. Studies show people who pick gyms close to home are more likely to regularly work out. (They also have a suggestion I have used for years: sleeping in workout clothes makes it easier to roll out of bed in the morning, slip on sneakers, and start exercising.)
Reward yourself. Listening to audiobooks while running, for example, or watching a favorite cooking show on the treadmill can help reinforce an exercise habit. (For over 35 years, I’ve read or watched movies and shows while sitting on my stationary bike or walking on the treadmill.)
It’s never too late in the year to start new habits. I hope some of these ideas will help you make some great changes that stick during the rest of 2022.