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Strategies for Turning Your Goals into Habits

February 5, 2017

Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions: Strategies for Turning Your Goals into Habits

Do you have goals for the coming year? You’re not alone. Many people make New Year’s resolutions to work toward goals that will make their lives better over the next year. But New Year’s resolutions are notoriously difficult to keep, with many people giving up on their goals just a few short weeks into the year. If you want to stick to your resolutions this year, the key is to turn your goals into habits. 

Choose a Single Goal 

There are probably several things you’d like to improve about your personal or professional life, but focusing on too many goals means your effort is distributed among them, making it harder to make progress and easier to give up. Instead of setting several goals, choose the most important one and focus all of your energy on achieving it. Once you do, you can move onto another objective.  

Create an Atmosphere for Success

Another reason many people fail to stick to their resolutions is that they set themselves up for failure. Make sure your goals are achievable. If you despise the thought of going to the gym or don’t have time before or after work, set up a workout area in your home. You don’t need thousands of dollars in equipment to get a robust workout in the comfort of your home; a few essential pieces will do the trick. 

Create Triggers

Triggers are clues that remind us to take a certain action. While triggers can be harmful and promote bad habits (such as smoking immediately following a meal), you can use them to your advantage to help you create better, more positive habits. Storing your gym bag beside the door can trigger you to stop at the gym on your way to work. Keeping a bag of fresh vegetables on a prominent shelf in the fridge can remind you that you’ve committed to packing a healthy lunch rather than hit the nearest drive-thru. Plant subtle clues in your environment that serve as triggers to help you build lasting habits. 

Commit to Just Five Minutes of Action 

The most challenging aspect of achieving a goal is simply getting started. It’s the same phenomenon that happens when you have a huge project deadline looming and you can’t seem to stop procrastinating. Set a timer and take action – whatever small tasks or activities will move you closer to your goal – for just five minutes. You might be surprised to find out how much easier it is to keep going once you’ve gotten started. 

Break Big Goals Down into Incremental Steps

Much like showing up is half the battle, big goals can often seem overwhelming and, because you’re not sure where to begin, it’s easier to not start at all (or worse, get stuck in planning mode, or analysis-paralysis). So, if your New Year’s resolution is huge and somewhat vague (such as “write a book” instead of “write a new chapter each week”), you can gain more traction by breaking it down into bite-sized, achievable chunks. Plus, crossing smaller tasks off your list can be a source of motivation to keep going. 

Creating healthy habits requires some willpower in the beginning. The effort is well worth it, though, as creating habits means that you’ll soon engage in healthy activities that propel you towards your goals without using up any willpower at all – that’s the power of habit. So instead of fighting yourself every step of the way, focus on developing lifelong, healthy habits, and you’ll find that those New Year’s resolutions aren’t so tough to keep after all. 

Image via Pixabay by Unsplash

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22315 Mulholland Highway
Next to Shell Gas Station
Calabasas, California 91302
Phone: (818) 224-4734