Do you want to accomplish your new year’s resolutions this year? Here are five tips to help you do just that.
It has always been tradition to start something new, or get rid of old bad habits every new year. Unfortunately, most of us often fail due to lack of willpower, motivation, organization, or something else. In fact, we fail so much that it’s become a common joke. Still, if you actually want to make positive changes in your life (and I follow these tips as well) this year, then these tips should be able to help you do just that.
(By the way, if you want some more detailed lessons and tips, you should definitely check out James Clear’s book Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones.)
You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.James Clear, Atomic Habits
5 Tips on How to Accomplish Your New Year’s Resolutions
1. First off, be clear and definite
What are some examples of new year’s resolutions? This year you want to be healthier, you want to save more money, you want to be more productive, etcetera etcetera. That’s all well and good, but what do you mean by “healthier”? How will you save more money? What will you do to “be more productive”?
Unless you turn the goals you want into specific ACTIONS, they will be nothing more than empty wishes. It will be like wanting to go somewhere, but you never looked for guides or directions. You’ll never get anywhere without action.
Be specific about the actions you’ll take for all of your New Year’s Resolutions. What can you do to be healthier? Eat more fruits and vegetables? Start a 30-minute workout schedule three times a week? What can you do to save more money? Immediately save 10% of your paycheck right after receiving it? Cut down on buying unnecessary overpriced snacks from the convenience store? How will you try to be more productive? Learn to apply the pomodoro technique? Change your work habits and work priorities?
Be clear and definite about your new year’s resolutions. Instead of empty desires and wishes, turn them into specific actions that you can do and then commit to them.
2. Improve your environment
In a previous article, we’ve talked about how improving your environment is one of the “easiest” ways to start a new good habit. Fortunately, you can use that principle to kickstart your new year’s resolutions too.
The idea is simple: Make improvements to your environment that will support your new habits for the year. For example, if you want to exercise more, go buy (or borrow) some exercise equipment that you will use like dumbbells, exercise mats, and gym clothes. If your house is cluttered and there’s no place for you to do your pushups and jumping jacks, clear up some space in your home, your garage, and/or your yard for it and designate that as an exercise spot. You can also sign up for a gym membership and do your exercises there. Whatever the case, arrange your environment so that it’ll be much easier to do your chosen habits.
Buy (or borrow) the items and equipment that you need for your New Year’s Resolutions and place them where you will always see and remember to use them.
3. Make a plan and schedule
Want to improve your chances of sticking to a good habit or New Year’s Resolution? In James Clear’s book, he summarized a two-week psychology study done by Sarah Milne, Sheina Orbell, and Paschal Sheeran.
248 participants were separated into three groups. People in group one were told to track how often they exercised in the next week. People in group two were also told to track, but they were given lessons on how exercise benefits heart health. Group three is similar to the second group, but with one major difference: they had to plan when and where they will exercise that week. They had to complete this statement:
- “During next week I will partake in at least 20 minutes of vigorous exercise on [DAY] at [TIME OF DAY] at/or in [PLACE].”
What were the results? The first two groups exercised at least once a week at a rate of 35-38%. The third group who made a plan? They exercised once a week at a rate of 91%. A MASSIVE improvement.
Use that knowledge to your advantage. Instead of just wanting to do something and then accidentally forgetting about it later, make a clear and definite plan for that thing you want to do. Make a schedule. Plan what day, what time, and WHERE you will do that thing you want to do. For extra effect, stick that plan somewhere where you will see and remember it. Let’s see how well you’ll be better at sticking to your plans then.
4. Stack them with other habits
In case you haven’t noticed, our lives are made of so many different habits. We get up, eat breakfast, go to work (or school), eat lunch, work some more, go home, eat dinner, and sleep, with a lot of things in between. There’s a certain pattern to our day to day lives. Why not stick a new action before or after some of those steps? If we add a new good action before or after certain habits, then those good actions eventually become habits as well. James Clear called that technique “habit stacking”.
Let me give you a personal example. At a certain point in my life, I was inspired to try Tai Chi or yoga-like exercises. Like most good actions, it’s rather inconvenient. It takes around 20-30 minutes, and needs a lot of space so I can’t do it at work and I get sweaty afterwards. How did I schedule it with my other habits? I simply did it every morning, right after waking up and before having breakfast. Thanks to that, I get a nice warmup before I start my day, I get some exercise before my stomach gets bloated from breakfast, and I get to shower off the sweat before I commute to work. That became a habit that I’ve done for maybe a decade now, and continue to this very day.
You can try something similar as well. Stack your New Year’s Resolution before or after something that you already do every day until it becomes a new good habit.
5. Do it often
Research says it can take over 66 days to form a habit. It may take you less time than that, or it may take more, but either way one of the most important and memorable facts I learned from James Clear’s book is that if you want to build a good habit, the number of repetitions matter more than the amount of time you spend on doing it.
If you think about it, it makes sense. Want to learn Yoga this month? You can either practice for 10 minutes every day for 30 days, or you can practice on only one day that month… for 5 hours non stop. Same amount of time (5 hours), but different results. Obviously, the 10 minute daily practice is likely far more effective. Try that with your new year’s resolution too!
Start small and simple. Don’t be too intense at the beginning. For example, if you want an exercise habit, you don’t have to keep up with the 10-minute hardcore crossfit video and puke from exhaustion (been there, done that, it was terrible and I almost fainted). That’d just traumatize you and give you burnout so you won’t do it again. Instead, start with slow and easier exercises and then make it more intense a few days or weeks later when your body gets stronger. Want to eat healthier? You don’t have to go 100% vegan right on January 2. You can start by putting bananas and packs of nuts at the dinner table so you have healthier snacks, then you add more vegetables to your meals (you don’t even need to go full vegan either).
Whatever you do, just start, and then keep going. Eventually, the good habit will form and you’ll have fulfilled your new year’s resolution. It’ll be easy! Barely an inconvenience!
- Be clear and definite with your New Years’ Resolutions. Turn them into actions that you’ll remember to do.
- Improve your home and work environment so that it’s easier to act.
- Make a plan and schedule and commit to it.
- Stack them with other habits that you already do.
- Persevere! Keep doing them until they eventually become automatic.
While a lot of us want to start something new every coming year, very few of us actually commit to making those New Year’s Resolutions work. If you follow these five tips, you should now have a much better chance of making all those positive changes in life. Again, remember to take it slow. You don’t need to rush and burn yourself out immediately. The number one goal is to make those good changes permanent.
Keep improving yourself, and you’ll improve your quality of life. Stack these year after year after year, and see how much better everything gets. They’ll all be worth it in the end.
I hope this article helped you! If you want to learn more lessons that can improve your life, then check out our other articles below!
- New Year, New Goals: What’s Your Next Big Success?
- 20 Quotes to Inspire You This New Year
- 10 Best New Year’s Resolutions to try this year