Think habits over resolutions

Nearly 50% of adults set resolutions, but it can feel overwhelming to stay motivated to reach those big goals. Still, you can make things happen by focusing less on big life changes and more on forming daily, manageable, automated habits. For example, resolving to lose 50 pounds this year can feel daunting, but focusing on eating less and moving more might seem doable. Keep the following in mind as you create new habits.

  • Connect habits to everyday situations. A habit is something you do every day without putting much thought into it. You can build new ones by leveraging or replacing habits you already have. For example, if you’re trying to increase daily steps, pack your sneakers when you pack your lunch—something you do every day—and commit to taking a walk before lunchtime.
  • Repetition matters. It takes thought and intention to start something new, but the more you do it, the more automatic and effortless it gets. So take action regularly.
  • Think and act like you’ve already succeeded. When you set future goals, train your mind “as if” you’ve already attained that goal. How would someone at a healthy weight think? What would he or she choose to eat? Putting future aspirations into present tense makes it easier to form daily habits that contribute to the goal.
  • Practice compassion. It’s a myth that new habits take 21 days to form. The truth is they take much longer. In the process of “sticking with it,” you’ll likely experience some setbacks. Instead of marking setbacks as failures, be kind to yourself. But get back on track as soon as you can.

New Year’s Day is a great opportunity to mentally wipe the slate clean and plan new goals. But remember: What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while. Work on small habits so you can reach your big goals.


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