how to develop better habits this year (1/6)

As the New Year begins, we all set resolutions for ourselves, but very few of us succeed in converting those resolutions into lasting habits. 

Personally, as I have discussed before, I prefer small daily improvements over lofty resolutions. It’s important that we let go of the instant change approach and instead focus on developing simple and proven systems to make our commitment to a positive habit or behavior change a reality. 

The main problem during this time of the year is that a majority of us are motivated to cultivate better habits or get rid of bad ones, however, only a handful of us are truly committed to following up on them. 

Habits take time and nurturing, they don’t magically develop over time. It’s naive to believe that we’ll automatically begin waking up early, go to the gym consistently or start writing a book. Or to assume that our desire to smoke, drink, gamble, lie or complain will instantly vanish from our lives. Sure, there are a few exceptions propelled by some intense aha! moments, but for most of us, we need to figure out some sure-fire ways on how we can make building a new habit or elimination of a negative one a reality for us. 

Resolutions are nothing but vague hopes and we have to transform them into real goals for ourselves and set up a foolproof system to accomplish them. 

Now is a fertile time for all of us to attain clarity with respect to who we want to become in our day-to-day life and start aligning our behaviors accordingly. Here are some important steps that we can all take to develop better habits in our lives:

Go Really Small

When it comes to habit building, thinking big doesn’t work for most people. Instead, it’s best to go small. James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits, talks about cultivating small habits that make an enormous difference in our lives. He gives the example of the British cycling team and how they turned around their results by focusing on 1 percent improvements in every area ranging from the built of the bike to the pillows and mattresses that they used to sleep on. Although these differences seem tiny, they all accumulated and added up in a big way significantly altering their fate in the sport. Thinking big is important for success, but thinking small comes with own advantages, especially during the beginning and intermediate stage; it’s easier and helps gather momentum. So, instead of focusing on going to the gym more, commit to going there for 5-10 minutes every day. Don’t work towards reading more books this year, just make a commitment to read one page or one quote per day. The most important thing is getting started and sticking to the new behavior. The easier it is, the better are your chances to convert it into a habit.