How to Build Good Habits, Instead of Resolutions

By Chandra Pepino For Belo Medical Group on January 3, 2021

Contrary to what would be ideal, the coming of a New Year doesn’t bring with it a new version of us. Because whether it’s January 1 or the middle of October, change starts with continued good habits. Resolutions have been proven time and again to fail, primarily because humans set overly ambitious goals, only to lack in follow-through. Instead of anchoring your self-improvement with the purchase of a new calendar, here’s how to build long-term good habits, any time of the year.

  1. Take the easy way out.

Yep, you read that right. According to James Clear, the bestselling author of Atomic Habits, the key to creating habits that last is to lower your expectations. To the bare minimum. As in, the bar is on the floor minimum. He says: “When you start a new habit, it should be so easy that you can’t say no to it. In fact, when starting a new behavior it should be so easy that it’s almost laughable. Want to build an exercise habit? Your goal is to exercise for 1 minute today. Want to start a writing habit? Your goal is to write three sentences today. Want to create a healthy eating habit? Your goal is to eat one healthy meal this week.”

  1. Create an environment conducive to change.

“The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past,” says Marie Kondo, author of the bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. If you’re embarking on a healthier diet, give away the food you’re no longer eating. If you want to improve your reading speed, place your books in a more conspicuous location. If you want to be reminded to work out, look for a permanent place to lay your exercise mat, and use activewear as loungewear. It’s all about making it easy for yourself to reach your goals.

  1. Be inspired by those around you.

Another goodie from Mr. Clear: The best way to push yourself to become better at something is to surround yourself with people who already have the skill level you want to achieve. Be very, very concerned if you happen to be the smartest or most capable person in the room. Want to be more confident? Stay away from friends who self-deprecate, and hang out with those who show a healthy love for themselves. Want to learn philosophy? Join online groups where people yabber about Socrates and Descartes for fun (not for school—that’s how you know they’re really into it). 

  1. Do it every day, even if you don’t feel like it.

Nobody enjoys their very first 3-kilometer run. Nobody enjoys their first day of a diet. Unfortunately, the things we need to do to live a healthier, happier life aren’t easy. The good news is, they do get easier…when you do them every day. After all, that’s how habits are formed. Instead of focusing on your daily results (which will be minute), focus on your daily choices. That way, you’ll find gratification in your hard work, no matter how long it takes to reach your goals. We can’t believe we’re learning this from a Netflix cartoon, but here we are. Thanks, BoJack Horseman!

  1. Don’t be the first to doubt yourself. 

Your biggest cheerleader should be you. If you yourself don’t believe you can do it, then you never will. Dare to expand your limits, and dare to believe in a version of yourself that can hit—and even surpass—your highest goals. 

Remember, Belo Beauties, it’s okay to slip and fall along the way. What’s important is you get back on track. Building good habits isn’t easy, but they are they key to a productive, fulfilling, and purposeful life. We’re rooting for you!

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