This time of year brings with it a lot of pressure to set new goals and start the year fresh. While we agree that goal setting is a productive way to start the year, we also have some tips for how to approach the new year with ease and grace versus rules and regulations. We also want to emphasize how small habits can be just as impactful as bigger goals, either becoming lifelong practices you incorporate into your daily routine or habits that serve you at a specific point in your life. While goals are often something you want to accomplish in the near or distant future, habits are practices you incorporate into your daily lives.
It may be tempting to start big when setting new goals, however, it has been shown that starting with small, attainable goals can give you the momentum you need to achieve bigger goals later on. Adopting subtle changes and shifts to your routine can have a major impact on your overall health, especially when that small change becomes an established habit. Habit stacking, coined by S.J. Scott, is a great way to approach goal setting and new habits, where you add or “stack” a new behaviour onto another in order to increase the likelihood of acceptance. For instance, if you are already boiling the kettle to make coffee in the morning, try setting out an extra mug with a fresh lemon nearby to start the day with a warm cup of lemon water before any caffeine. Adding to an already dialed in routine is a simple change that can have a big overall impact. You can continue to keep building small, impactful, habits on top of each one to continue the momentum of positive change.
Set Yourself Up For Success
Adding in a new habit or striving to achieve a goal requires some preparation and environmental adjustments. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, focuses on the importance of cues and priming your environment for new, productive behaviours. A cue (often visual) is the initial event that signals you to remember. It can be as simple as setting out your pajamas and having a cozy sleeping area to encourage an earlier bedtime, or prepping your smoothie the night before so all you need to do is grab a pre portioned container and toss it into the blender in the morning. When you suddenly start to crave your morning cup of warm lemon water upon seeing the mug and lemon beside the kettle, it becomes clear how impactful visual cues can be. Reducing barriers is another important aspect of habit success. Taking time to identify obvious barriers that are keeping you from achieving your goals and incorporating new habits is an important part of the process. James Clear also notes that positive goals and habits don’t always have immediate favourable outcomes, but long term, will produce the best ultimate outcomes, which is why some habits take work.
Don’t Over Commit
You don’t have to completely jump into a new habit or goal for the year right away. Easing into a new routine, and seeing how it fits into your life, and more importantly, how you feel once you begin, is just as important as committing. It can be as easy as taking the time to assess whether something truly feels good, and if it does, add it, and if it doesn’t, simply let it go and move on to something that better serves you. This is the perfect time to try an intro week at a new studio or gym to see how it feels before committing to a full-year membership.
Shift Your Mindset
Setting goals can be a daunting task, however, we encourage you to shift your mindset around goal setting and introduce some fun into the equation. Can you view your goals as part of your self-care routine? Once you start viewing your goals and habits as a way to introduce new and impactful changes into your life, you will stop viewing change from a place of deprivation and lack, and start associating goals with positivity and growth. As you focus your energy on positive change and continue to make space for new routines, your previous “negative” habits will eventually be pushed out and fall away. Focus your energy where you want to see the changes, and start to embody the person who already has those habits engrained, instead of focusing on what is wrong with your current routine.