- Accept the power of habits. The great majority of the things you do every day, you do out of habit, not intention. Use that to your advantage by tying new tiny habits to established ones.
- Pick behaviors, not outcomes. “Lose 40 pounds” is not something you can do unless you use a hacksaw.
- Be specific. “Exercise more” is a behavior, but it’s too vague. Worse, it’s actually a series of habits in conflict with about a hundred already-established habits.
- Start ridiculously small. “I will floss one tooth” seems silly, but that’s exactly why it works! Go ahead and floss one tooth, chuckling at yourself the whole time, and call it a win. Do that awhile and see what happens.
- Accept that willpower is finite. Gritting your teeth and trying harder only works for a little while, so flee from temptation. Don’t play with it. Don’t see how close you can get to a line before you cross it. Run away.
- Use peer pressure. Join a group of people who already do the thing you want to do, or already are what you want to be. It works for extinguishing habits too. Remove yourself from the people, places, and situations that were part of that old habit.
- Measure what you do. This is the simplest of all behaviors, because you’re not committing to change anything. Yet surprisingly, just measuring something often produces change.
What’s your New Year’s resolution?