Ah, the exciting promise of New Year’s resolutions, right? It’s that time when we pledge to hit the gym, eat healthier, or finally learn that language—only to watch those good intentions fizzle out faster than you can say “January.”
So this year, how about we shake things up? Let’s bid adieu to those fleeting resolutions and embrace something more game-changing: the power of forming new habits that actually stick around and change our lives.
Because if you desire a truly transformative 2024 – one filled with accomplishments, self-discovery, and growth – then you need to create habits that become second nature and for you. Because about 45% of our behavior happens on autopilot.
If we don’t have to think about a new behavior, we don’t need to depend on our willpower to keep us on course and so we’re more likely to stick with it.
Here are my top five easy tips (and the books that inspired them) to create habits that last:
Tip 1: Make Super Small Changes
Often when we set out to change our habits we set our sights on some big, impressive goal. Lose 20 lbs before the kids’ spring break, keep the house ‘mother-in-law’ spotless always, or work out for an hour five times a week!
We have great intentions to follow through because we know how gratifying it will feel once we achieve these goals, but the truth is most of us never will.
No matter how well intentioned we are, our brains are creatures of habit and they love to conserve energy and reduce risk. Big huge goals freak out our brains and it quickly goes to work to convince us that this new goal is too much of a hassle.
So, the trick is to ease into a new habit slowly, taking teeny, tiny steps and gradually build up from there. The trick is consistency – do them daily. And over time, these itty-bitty improvements snow ball into remarkable results.
To learn more about this incredible tip, check out “Atomic Habits” by James Clear. In this book, Clear gives you practical tips to improve your life, 1% every day.
Tip # 2: High Five Yourself Every Morning
In her incredible book “The High 5 Habit” Mel Robbins shares one of her favorite tips (and one of mine too!) to improve your mood, build your confidence and inspire you to change your life. After you brush your teeth, look in the mirror, set an intention on what you want to achieve for the day and then give your High Five!
According to Mel (and she’s so incredibly bright), our brains have so much positive programming around the gesture of high fives: You got this! We did it! You go girl! So this simple action raises the positivity vibe and silences the critic in our minds.
So go ahead, try it … high-five yourself in the mirror starting tomorrow morning. It’s not just going to make your day better, it’s going to change your life!
Want to know more. Check out Mel Robbins’ incredible book, “The High 5 Habit” today!
Tip #3: Don’t Rely on Will Power
Willpower often hinges on our motivation and decision-making abilities. It demands mental effort to either convince ourselves to act or refrain from doing something. And unfortunately, we only have so much willpower. It’s a limited resource.
When we are tired and overwhelmed we simply don’t have enough energy or brain power to make the ‘right’ decision.
Instead, we’re going to look for dopamine and serotonin hits to give us more energy. And more often than not, the things that give us these hits are the very thing we’re trying to overcome.
Before you find yourself in this perilous situation, take some time to understand your triggers and identify suitable alternative behaviors. Add in a little rewards system for that new behavior and soak up all that dopamine hit.
Patrick Edblad outlines all of this and more in his book, “The Habit Blueprint”.
Tip #4: Break the Habit Loop
Habits operate in a three-step loop: first, there’s a cue, then the actual habit or routine, and finally, the reward.
Your brain follows this loop each time you do something automatically, like reaching for cookies when you’ve had a bad day.
The exciting thing to know is that you can change your habits by changing just one part of this loop—the routine. Here’s how:
- 1. Spot the routine: Find the habit you’re looking to shake off.
- 2. Try different rewards: Experiment with things that give you the same feel-good vibes.
- 3. Dig into the triggers: Figure out what sets off that habit.
- 4. Find a workaround for those triggers: Try ways to avoid or tweak those situations.
Want to end the endless cycle once and for all? Check out “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.
Tip #5: Think Intentional Thoughts
Did you know that 95% of our thoughts and actions are steered by our subconscious? It’s behind-the-scenes running the show and influencing our lives without us realizing it.
Now, imagine this: mastering your subconscious means wielding a huge influence over what unfolds in your life. To do this we need to focus on breaking the cycle of repetitive thoughts and actions that keep us stuck and stagnant.
Thinking intentional thoughts means actively choosing what truly matters to us. Choosing a positive mindset instead of listening to the critics in our head. It’s about steering our actions to line up with our values.
Embracing intentionality ramps up our focus, commitment, and adds a whole lot more purpose and meaning to our lives.
A really great (and hysterical) book the dives into this and so much more is “UnFU*K Yourself” by Gary John Bishop. I can’t recommend it enough!
The Best is Yet to Come
So as we step into the new year, instead of setting ambitious resolutions that will fizzle out fast. Try something with more staying power—forming habits that reshape and enrich our lives.
These habits aren’t just about hitting the gym or trying a new diet; they’re about integrating small, intentional changes into our daily routines.
By understanding the tricks of habit formation and leveraging the power of intentionality we can pave the way for a transformative and fulfilling year ahead.