New Year Resolution Ideas – Create Habits Not Goals

new year resolution ideasHave you declared your New Year’s  Resolutions yet?  Well, I have, but not in terms of goals.  I have a new set of new year resolution ideas this year.   They are geared toward helping me achieving a more lasting change than what goals can achieve.

But first, let’s talk about what make a good vs bad new year resolution.  Did you know that over 60% of Americans make New Year Resolutions but only 8% achieving those resolutions?

Why are we so bad at keep our new year resolutions?  My theory is most of our new year resolutions are either vague or short-lived. For example, “Lose weight” is one of the top 5 new year resolutions of 2016.    “Lose Weight” is more of a wish than a new year resolution.   Your response may be, “I don’t just wish, I define SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.  This way I have a plan on how to achieve my goals.”   I applaud you. However, I will argue even SMART goals are not enough and often short-lived.  

Let’s say – Your New Year Resolutions is “I will lose 25 pounds in 4 weeks.  I will kick start it with a juice fast then followed by eating healthy (no desserts/low fat diet), and exercising 4 times a week with cardio and weight training.”   It’s definitely SMART.  Let’s say you achieved it in 4 weeks. That’s a huge accomplishment.   Now my questions are:

  • What will do for the rest of the year? Did you know that dieting increases your risk of gaining more weight?  This is especially true if you did an extreme diet.
  • Do you know what caused you to be overweight in the first place?   Is it stress?  is it a bad self-image?
  • Can you make your healthy lifestyle a habit instead of just an one-time goal?

My point is even with achieving a SMART goal, it is temporary unless you can turn whatever you did to achieve that goal into a life-long habit.  This is why for my new year resolution, I am focusing on creating good habits instead of SMART goals.   According to, habit is defined as “an acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary.”

create habits not goals

New year is a great motivating time of the year to take action for your career and for your life.    Use this time to define new habits you want – habits that can last you a lifetime.   Here are 5 steps to help you.

  1. Select one area of your life to focus on – career, happiness, family, marriage, health, finances  (e.g., health)
  2. For this one area, brainstorm how you are today and who you want to be tomorrow.   Think of the underlying reasons why you don’t like who you are being today and create a different statement for yourself.  Keep writing without judgement.  For example:  Today – “I am a stress eater.” Tomorrow, “I like to eat healthy and exercise to relieve stress”.  Don’t stop at one habit.   Create a set of habits that centers around Health or whatever area you selected from #1 .
  3. Share your “new year resolution habits”  – tell your friends and family about it.  Write it down and put it on your wall, somewhere visible to you daily.
  4. Define baby actions to practice each habit – Do this now while you are in the glow of new years and are motivated :-).  List out all the ways you can reinforce this habit.   Strive for 50 to 100 micro-changes you can make.    By doing this ahead of time, you can go to your list daily and just select one for that day to practice.   Small baby steps can make a big difference in the long run.
  5. Go through all three phases of creating a habit.   According to, before a new habit can be created, you need to go through 3 phases.   How long it takes it is up to you.  Read more here.
    1. Phase 1: Honeymoon period – this is usually the easiest
    2. Phase 2: the Fight Thru – this is where most of the temptation of your old habits will show up and want to lure you back to your old way.  You need to fight it and keep practice your new habit.
    3. Phase 3: Second nature – when you “get into the groove” of the new you.  Be aware of being pulled back into phase 2.  Many people do.

This is not a easy process and will take commitment every day instead of just at the beginning of the new year.  However, it is worth it.  Here are the beginning of my New Year’s Resolutions.

  1. My focus in 2016 is on Happiness – Learning how to be happy regardless of circumstance, achievements, or wealth.
  2. Here is my brainstormed list of Happiness Habits new year resolution - happiness habits
    1. Journal/Meditate –  support my pursuit to be Mindful and be in the present
    2. Explore / Test – learning makes me happy and help me stay creative.  I will start explore new possibilities in my career, in this website, and in the ways I learn and the way I interact with others.
    3. Laugh – ability to laugh at myself and others in a good-natured way.  Don’t take things so seriously. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
    4. Splurge –  Splurge with money and time.  I like being efficient in everything – get the best value for my money and get the most out of my time.  It is the trait of a maximizer to a fault, many times leading me to being frustrated or unhappy.  Splurge once in a while will help me balance and loosen up.
    5. Get Intuitive – This is the balance to my tendency to fall into “Analysis Paralysis”  This happens with me often in personal situations.   This helps me get back to understand “What I truly want, without the need to justify. or be confused by what my kids, my parents, my husband want.”
  3. I have shared this my husband and now with you.  And it’s on my bedroom wall.
  4. I am still working on this step.  Here is an example for one habit – Journal/Meditate and a laundry list of micro-action I can take to be mindful and be in the present.  Remember I only need to do one of these things in a day to start practicing this habit.
    1. Journal for 15 minutes about any topic – stream of consciousness
    2. Fill out a guided journal (just bought one)
    3. Finish 30 days of mindfulness challenges.   I have done the first week for 3 months now.  Now it’s time to do the rest at least once
    4. In a heated situation, pause and take a deep breath
    5. Take a 3rd person perspective and watch myself speak
    6. Do the “welcome meditation” anytime I have a strong negative emotion
    7. “Thank you for another day” – say it when I need it.  Say it with my kids
    8. Say in my head, 5 things I am thankful for before going to bed
    9. Say in my head, 3 things I love about myself before going to bed.
    10. ……
  5. Lastly the 3 phases….  This will take the whole year 🙂  and I am looking forward to it.  I am obviously in the Honeymoon phase!

Do I expect myself to create all these habits in 2016?  No.  I have no expectations, just aspirations.  My entire goal is to continue evolving into an even happier person.  Enjoying this evolving journey is in itself already helping me Explore and Test how to become a happier person.

Your comments:   What do you think of these New Year Resolution ideas?  I look forward to hearing your New Year’s resolution in the comment section.

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Best wishes in 2016.  I am always in your corner.


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