With New Year just around the corner comes the time where you might be pondering: which resolutions should I take this year, and how far will they take me? Where big resolutions might fail, micro habits will succeed: discover here what they are, and how they have a big impact long-term.
New Year's resolution ideas: Why you should choose micro habits, and how small changes have a big impact
Christmas is all about indulging in whichever little pleasures fill you up with joy: that pumpkin cookie your mum bakes so well, the mac n cheese dish from your uncle, the bakery around the corner’s best pastry… And it usually leads to people setting goals after New Years Eve to reset and refresh their usual rhythms. However, estimate only 7% of people who write down resolutions stick to all of them!
It makes sense: resolutions are often bigger than you can bite and involve radical change in your lifestyle. Which is exactly why you should opt for micro habits instead of big and bold resolutions - after all, it’s about setting yourself up for success.
So you've resolved to eat healthier, exercise more, live more sustainably... All these points look great on paper, but how can you put them into practice and how do you manage to achieve them in your hectic and stressful everyday life? This is where habits come into play or rather so-called micro habits.
How do micro habits work?
Micro habits are actions that require minimal motivation or effort to perform. The idea is that with each small habit you get to your big goal (such as “eating healthier” or “exercise more”).
Here's a simple example of how to use micro habits to stick to your resolutions:
Let's say you want to start brushing your teeth every morning.
The trigger: after getting up → you go straight to the bathroom and brush your teeth
The routine: brushing your teeth itself
The reward: healthy gums and a pleasant mint taste
It helps to first break down a single habit into its phases. But what about those mammoth New Year's resolutions? It helps to break them down into many small sub-goals and habits, i.e. micro habits.
Micro habits require minimal motivation or effort and will lead to a bigger goal completion, step by step.
Here's a graphic that illustrates this nicely.
Let’s take an example: this year, you would like to manage your stress better or be more mindful. How to reach this general goal? This is where you could create a micro habit of meditating 5 minutes per day. 5 minutes is not long, but it can have a great effect on your general well-being. After a few weeks, your mind and body will associate the 5 upcoming minutes as a relaxing me-time, and relax even before you start the exercise.
4 New Year's resolutions ideas and which micro habits to help you stick with them
Create your own personal routine of micro habits! Just pick a few points and create little triggers and reminders to remind you to do them.
Pro tip: Keep track of which ones help you and which ones don't in a notebook or digitally. Look at your records after a month and think about which habits should be kept, which should be modified and which should be dropped.
Micro habits to eat healthier
- Whenever you go shopping at the supermarket, make sure you put 1 piece of fruit or vegetable in your basket. Extra points for seasonal vegetables!
- Next time, buy a fruit/vegetable you've never tried before.
- Make sure the food on your plate is at least 3 different colours (no, beige, light beige and brown don't count!). For example, try this simple bowl.
- Drink 1 glass of water directly after getting up. Pro tip: Stir in a spoonful of Gut Feeling Mix for a digestion-helping instant celery juice.
- Take 3 deep breaths before each meal.
Micro habits to exercise more
- Get out of the house at least 1 time a day. Even if it's just for a short walk around the block!
- Set an alarm on your phone: get up every 2 hours and do a short stretch, stretch your legs, dance to your favourite song.
- While brushing your teeth or waiting in a queue, just go up on your toes and rock back and forth.
- Do relaxation yoga: Doesn't take long and you don't have to be an experienced yogi!
- Try a different form of exercise for 10 minutes every day and find out what you enjoy the most: Is it yoga, jogging, dancing, kickboxing, strength training, HIIT, calisthenics, etc.?
- Get off one stop early and walk the rest of the way home or to work.
- The classic: take the stairs instead of the lift.
Micro habits to live more sustainably
- Store food properly: Does the lemon belong in the fridge? Should you store your apples separately?
- Always carry a jute bag in your handbag, that way there’s no need to buy extra bags at the store.
- Ask for a deposit cup for your coffee-to-go at the café.
- Buy fruit and vegetables in bulk at the supermarket, use cotton nets or paper bags. Especially don't buy fruit and vegetables that already come in plastic bags, e.g. bananas, oranges...
- For longer journeys, buy a train ticket or use car-sharing options.
- Buy/borrow second-hand: From drills to winter coats - there are already enough of them in the world, so see if there is a second-hand shop or even exchange options near you. Or simply ask your neighbour!
- Wrap gifts in old newspaper/old wrapping paper/packing paper and decorate them with pens instead. Or wrap them in a cotton bag or tea towel.
- Bring back the soap dish and use washing soap instead of shower gel.
- Before you buy something new, think about 5 reasons why you really need it - it saves not only resources but also money!
Micro habits for more mindfulness
- Don't put your mobile phone next to your bed, but on the other side of the room. This way you don't reach for it right after waking up.
- Set small mindfulness reminders on your mobile phone: In the morning, at noon or in the evening, just think about what you are grateful for. Extra tip: Write it down!
- 5-minute meditation before going to bed
- Cook and eat in peace, don't watch Netflix at the same time.
- Take 15 minutes every day to read a book or an interesting article.
- Schedule one Digital Detox day per week - a weekend day is especially good. Extra points: Saturday and Sunday without any social media at all.
- Switch off all technical devices ½ hour before going to bed - not only do you detox a bit from your screen, it will also help you sleep better! Tip for those who still want to listen to podcasts: Create a "sleep timer" so that the podcast just ends after a while and you don't have to pick up the phone anymore.
- Do at least one Random Act of Kindness every week/day.
- 5-senses exercise for more mindfulness: What do I hear? What do I see? What do I feel? What do I taste? What do I smell? Tip: Use it when you are feeling overwhelmed
Text: Rebecca Höfer