Written by Mineli Gagliano
With each new year that begins, many of us find it a familiar practice to make long lists of goals we refer to as 'resolutions' that often get forgotten and unfulfilled.
“80% of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions by the second week in February. This is a sad statistic. That means most of us only stay committed for a month and a half. It takes anywhere from two to eight months to develop a new behavior or habit,” according to James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits.
Starting with only one simple step is really all you need to get started. By setting a goal that is small enough that requires nearly no motivation to complete, we are setting ourselves up for success — we refer to these goals as 'mini-habits'.
A ‘mini-habit’ is one positive behavior change that you force yourself to do every single day. It would be a mini step that paves the way to a larger goal, like a stepping stone.
Breaking down your goal into teeny (and very achievable) steps means it is possible to do them every single day. It also means it is impossible to fail. Would 5 push-ups really take much effort, for example?
Use this five-step checklist as your guide to get started:
Start small. The most important rule of thumb is it needs to be small, even tiny.
Focus on only one goal at a time. Mastering multiple skills is a skill in itself and we are possibly already doing too much. Just choose the most important thing for this season.
Make the goal simple & clear. Making the choice to exercise a little each day is not clear enough so define it, for example, doing five push-ups and five sit-ups before bedtime each day is specific and achievable.
Stack your habit to an existing one. The best way to make a new habit stick is to add it to an existing lifestyle choice. Taking a new supplement can be easy to forget, but mixing it into your morning coffee removes one obstacle. This strategy is known as ‘habit-stacking.’
Reward yourself. Knowing there is a reward in it can help build the habit in the start. For example, keeping your bubble bath until after you have completed your fitness mini-habit is likely to get you through it quicker.
“It's the little things that we do for ourselves every day that culminate in making a big difference to our health and well-being. Whether your mini-habits are for improved nutrition, or exercise, sleep, or play time — these different parts of our lifestyle are all equally important pieces in the wellness puzzle,” says Yu Ming O’Neil, co-founder of Sparkle Wellness.
"Why don't we just replace a long list of resolutions with one single mini-habit to be the building block for positive changes for the new year?" she recommends for greater success at starting something new for ourselves.