This is the time of year when well-intentioned people create New Year’s resolutions, promising themselves that this year will be different. And that “magical” date of January 1st will be the start of a new life.
Sadly, only around eight percent will actually follow through on their resolutions. They have good intentions, but is so much easier to fall back into old patterns and habits.
You can be one of the eight percent who actually keep their New Year’s resolutions. The key is to set small, attainable goals that are baby steps leading to your big goal.
Try Stacking Habits
Research shows the quickest way to create a new habit in your life is to stack it on top of a current habit. It’s called habit stacking and it works because your current habit is already engrained in your brain. You can now more quickly add a new habit into this already fast and efficient pathway of neurons than if you tried building one from scratch.
How the Habit Stacking Method Works
To use this method, you fill in the blanks of this sentence:
After/before [YOUR CURRENT HABIT], I will [YOUR NEW HABIT]
Healthy Eating Habit: After I brew my morning coffee, I will eat a piece of fruit.
Exercise Habit: Before I take my morning shower, I will take a brisk 20-minute walk.
Nighttime Dental Habit: After I dress for bed, I will brush and floss my teeth.
Gratitude Habit: Before I eat my first bite of breakfast, I will reflect on one thing I’m grateful for.
Now that you have the formula for setting achievable resolutions, let’s make it even easier by choosing goals you’ll love. There are many small habits that make a big difference in our lives and they’re worth achieving. Here are five New Year’s resolutions you’ll actually want to keep:
New Year’s Resolutions You’ll Love
1. Invest more time in conversations that matter. Too often our daily conversations with co-workers, friends, and even family members are shallow, no more than mere chit-chat. Though that’s fine for occasional interactions, investing in deeper, more meaningful conversations will enhance the relationship more.
Habit Stacking: After greeting my coworker/friend/family member, I will ask them one meaningful question about their life.
2. Complain less and change more. It’s all around us–things that need to be fixed, changed or removed. And we’re all guilty of complaining about what’s not going right. How about taking one problem area and brainstorming ways to make it better. You just might make a lasting difference.
Habit Stacking method: Before I talk about what’s wrong with a situation, I will think of one possible way to fix it.
3. Smile more. There are countless stories of how a smile changed a life, brightened a day and even saved a life. Someone’s day—or life—may be changed as a result of your smile. Why not share it—it costs you nothing.
Habit Stacking method: After meeting the gaze of a person I pass, I will give them a smile, regardless of whether they smile first.
4. Forgive more. Write down the name of one person who needs your forgiveness most, then give yourself permission to forgive them. Now add your name to the list and forgive yourself for areas you’ve fallen short.
Habit stacking method: After talking to a friend I love, I will write a short note of forgiveness to one person who needs it most.
5. Give something of value to someone in need. There are many people who are struggling to obtain just the basics of life. By showing compassion and giving to those in need, you really uplift someone who’s going through a tough time. And the added benefit is you feel good doing it.
Habit Stacking method: After I buy something new, I will donate one quality item to a charitable organization.
Dr. Mike Malone and his team practice expert cosmetic dentistry in Lafayette, LA. Dr. Malone is the former president and accredited member of the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. He is also the official Cosmetic Dentist of the Miss Louisiana USA and Miss Louisiana Teen USA pageants.