How can you cultivate and develop better habits in 2020 and beyond?
The new year gives us a chance to evaluate what’s working in our lives, what’s not, and how we want to get healthier and feel happier.
If part of your new year plan is to form good habits and break bad habits, the first step is to figure out how to make the good ones stick! That’s why we’re sharing 7 ways to master better habits in the new year.
These tips are designed to help you start implementing changes in your life in ways that don’t feel overwhelming, can be easily added to your existing routines, and, most importantly, will work for you! Because let’s be honest—there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to anything in life.
You can master better habits in the new year that have the power to transform your life and help you achieve all of your dreams. So here we go!
1.) Set Specific Instructions
Sometimes the reason we don’t follow through with good habits is because we don’t set goals that are specific enough. Saying you want to get healthy or write a book or learn to sing is great, but you’re much more likely to follow through if you know exactly how you’re going to do it.
Do your research and have a very clear idea of what’s necessary to achieve your goals, then figure out how that translates into habits. Link these new habits to ones you already have in place. For example, Before I eat lunch, I will go on a 15 minute walk or I’ll get up 30 minutes early each day to write.
2.) Start small and break your goals down.
When you’re clear on what habits you really want to work on, it’s time to drill down and figure out where to start. Making big changes in our lives takes hard work and lasting change doesn’t happen overnight.
If we want to lose weight or start a business or buy a house, those are big goals that take a lot of steps to achieve. But if we incorporate small habits (like exercising each week or saving money from each paycheck), those habits will eventually lead to success.
Here’s an example of a plan that breaks down the larger goal of losing weight into manageable habits that will be effective over time.
Goal: Lose 10 pounds in 6 months
- I will exercise for 30 minutes 3 times a week.
- I will track my calories in MyFitnessPal each day.
- I will try one new, healthy recipe each week.
- I will exercise for 45 minutes 4 times a week.
- I will track my calories in MyFitnessPal each day and adhere to a caloric goal.
- I will sign up for a 5k and begin training.
- I will exercise for 1 hour 5 times a week.
- I will track my calories in MyFitnessPal each day.
- I will participate in a 5k.
These goals build upon each other, starting small and then leading up to changes that will inevitably help you reach the goal. For our purposes here, even these monthly goals are a bit broad.
You could break them down even further if you need to, such as Week 1: Find a gym or specific form of exercise I enjoy by trying three new things or Week 2: Create a Pinterest board with easy, healthy recipes.
3.) Keep track.
Tracking your progress will be important not only to see how far you’ve come, but also force you to evaluate (and be honest!) about how often you’ve followed through on your habits. It will also help you identify when it’s time to change your habits as your goals evolve.
For example, if you find that you really love working out, you might be ready to bump up your workouts to five days a week.
You can keep track in a journal, a planner, or even just a notebook. Make a checklist of what you need to get done every day and then check them off the list! Also use your calendar to help you stay on track.
Make space in your schedule for your new habits, just as you would with a work meeting or doctor’s appointment.
4.) Make your goals work for you.
What works for one person won’t work for everyone. Even if you have the same goals as someone else, you don’t need to have the same habits. Maybe you like yoga and running but your BFF wants to lose weight by weight lifting and Zumba. Maybe a budget app works for you to save money, but someone else wants to use the envelope system.
Whatever you do, create habits that make you feel good and work for your life. That might mean you have to try a bunch of different things, but stick with it. Before you know it, you’ll actually be enjoying them!
5.) Accountability is key.
Surrounding yourself with people who uplift and encourage you has the power to change your life—and impact your behavior. Having the right people in your corner will dramatically increase the chances of your mastering your new healthy habits.
Find a friend who is also working toward achieving their own goals. Their goals don’t have to be the same as yours, they just also have to be on the path to better habits.
Update each other about your individual progress, provide encouragement when one of you starts to slip, and get together to celebrate your success.
6.) Forgive yourself.
You will slip up. You might go a day or two (or three!) without sticking to your healthy habits. You might even give up halfway through to focus on a new goal. That is okay.
No one is perfect and no journey to healthy habits will be perfect. When you do make a mistake, forgive yourself, think about what you could do differently, and move on. If you’re too hard on yourself, it’s more difficult to stay positive and keep working hard.
7.) Be grateful and celebrate.
Most of us are better at beating ourselves up for mistakes than celebrating what we have achieved. But celebrating progress is crucial to motivation and following through. When you reward yourself for making progress, no matter how small that progress might be, you feel empowered to take action, stick with your good habits, and find greater success in the future. So, reward yourself for each milestone, no matter how small.
Gratitude also has the power to change your mindset and help you focus on what’s going right in your life. As you track the progress you’re making toward your goals, also write down what you’re grateful for, no matter how big or small.