Ditch Resolutions for Small Steps

"Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become." James Clear, Atomic Habits (pg. 38)

The start of a new year, quarter, season, week or day can psychologically signal the start of something new: spring is a time for clearing out the clutter; October is a chance to make the last 90 days of the year count before the new year; Monday is the day you'll start your new diet.

New Year's resolutions are perhaps the most well-known time-related symbol of embracing change, but perhaps almost as famous is the fact that up to 81% of people who make a New Year's resolution will give up their resolution by mid-January.

What's more, changing your life overnight is an unrealistic thing to expect of yourself; it's downright unfair. So, what are you to do?

Research in the areas of behavior change, weight loss, and skill-building show that the best time to start is now, and the best thing to start with is one small step. Small, incremental habit changes make for lifestyle improvements that can be sustained in the long haul.

For a quick guide on the idea behind these small habits (with pictures!), James Clear's articles are a great place to start. We recommend his article How to Build a New Habit: This is Your Strategy Guide as an outline, primer or refresher for his book Atomic Habits.

Here are some books to get you started on the topic. Many are available in print, e-book or audiobook formats to suit your reading style. (Hint: If you're struggling to read as much as you would like, try switching up formats.)

Atomic Habits – This book is the gold standard in habits. James Clear convincingly explains why small changes incrementally add up to big results. He covers the science behind habits and how to make them stick.

Why Has Nobody Told Me This Before? – If you're looking to improve your mental health or just want a little less stress throughout the day, look no further than Dr. Julie Smith. Famous for her TikTok videos and YouTube shorts focused on cleverly explaining psychology and tricks for boosting your mental health, Dr. Julie Smith's book covers all kinds of easy-to-implement small habits for increasing your happiness and gratitude for life.

The Power of Small – Sometimes things can be overwhelming, especially when we want things to change. In this book, the authors go over the psychology of making small, sustainable lifestyle changes.

Tiny Habits – Another leader in the field of habits, Fogg provides research-backed steps to implement small life-changing habits.