New Year's Resolutions SUCK. Here's a Better Way to Build Habits That Last.

New Year’s resolutions don’t work. They’re a bad way to turn one’s life around. The most common of which are: eating healthier, exercising and saving money. The idea, presumably, is that you want to maintain these habits for life - but the trouble is that you’re forcing a sudden change on yourself and expecting it to stick. Most of the time it won’t. In fact, 45% of people fail to keep their resolutions by February, less than 20% of people keep them for two years. The motivation is there when you start, but motivation is short term. In order to create something that stays ingrained in you for the rest of your life, you need a system to fall back onto. Where goals can fail, systems prevail. If your goal is healthy eating and exercise it makes sense to think that signing up to a gym, promising yourself you’ll go 5 times a week with your PT and starting to eat broccoli and beans for dinner every night is a good idea. But this isn’t sustainable. This isn’t the way to create lasting habits.

My suggestion would be to focus on one goal, then zoom in and focus only on one small part of that goal. Let’s take healthy eating for example, instead of changing your diet radically, (so much so that you dread the idea of having to sit down for a meal) just start having healthier lunches. That’s it. It doesn’t even have to be every day. You want something small and attainable, something that isn’t too hard or different from what you’re used to. It’s important to not have some grandiose goal in mind, have some humility. Don’t aim to jump up the skyscraper in one huge leap - climb up there, one step at a time.

Once this has become fully ingrained into your lifestyle, take the next step and start exercising a couple times a week. Not 5 times a week, start with 2 to 3 light easy sessions. These should be short enough that you won’t worry that it’ll take up a lot of your time. Wait until you start enjoying it then you won’t mind spending more time exercising. An activity isn’t a waste of time if you enjoy it. Remember this is a process, a system to create long lasting habits. Instilling good habits will take time. Months. Maybe years before you fully achieve your lifestyle change. But it’s better to make slow changes over time that will last, than it is to make a radical change that is only temporary.

The last thing is, why does it have to be on New Years? If you want to make a change in your life, don’t wait until an arbitrary date set by the position of the earth relative to the sun. Do it today. Start now. Waiting for the new year before starting a change in your life sounds like procrastination to me. “I’m just waiting for the motivation” - who’s to say you’ll be more motivated to start on the first of January than you are today? Cash out that motivation check now.

Obviously it’s better to start on the new year than it is to not start at all, but God damn, if you want something, get it now. Don’t wait.