New Year, New Outlook on New Habits

Keilee Takata

Don’t kid yourself — a new year does not necessarily mean new you. Many people overshoot and set unachievable goals for themselves, only to wind up disappointed when they can’t run ten miles a day and get rid of all of their unused belongings in a week. However, by creating small changes in your habits rather than creating a mountain to climb, those ten miles and house clean-outs won’t be so unachievable. 

“I think people find it difficult to stick to a habit because they haven’t given it enough time, or they’ve made their habit too difficult to keep up,” said senior Mackenzie North. For her senior project, North completed the 75 Hard challenge: a mental toughness challenge where participants must follow a healthy diet, drink a gallon of water a day, complete two daily workouts (at least one being outside), and read ten pages of nonfiction every day, for 75 days, without cheating or skipping.

North explained that staying persistent is a key part of creating successful changes. “It usually takes more than two months to create a habit that is automatic.” 

However, staying persistent is not all that factors into the equation; setting yourself up for success is very important. Scheduling your day to make time for your habit will not only help you stick to it, but can turn it into a highlight of your day as a break from other stressors.

“I created time in my schedule to go to the gym every day, and I made it something to look forward to,” said North. “When I found enjoyment in going to the gym, it became less of a chore and more of a hobby.”

Making your new habit something you enjoy is also essential to success. If you find joy in an activity you pick up, you’re probably not going to stop anytime soon! If you want to start running more, try running on the beach rather than the treadmill; you’ll get a more enjoyable view, get some Vitamin D, and maybe get to meet a few dogs. 

North mentioned James Clear’s bestselling book Atomic Habits that she read during the challenge as a great help. It explains the psychology behind why certain habits work and others don’t. 

North said, “The most valuable piece of habit building advice that I learned [from the book] was to make your good habits attractive, and craft your bad habits to be extremely unattractive.”

You also want to make your habits obvious, or not easy to ignore. Putting a big bowl of fruit on your table is a greater incentive to eat them than hiding them in a drawer in your fridge.

All of these little changes will help mold your bad habits into more positive and healthy ones, a much easier feat than trying to throw yourself into a marathon run.

“With short-term goals, you’re more likely to stay motivated and continue the tasks,” said North.

Still, there is nothing wrong with having ambitious long-term goals! Achieving something incredible is a gratifying experience — especially if you’ve put in a crap ton of work to accomplish it. 

“Long-term goals are a bit more challenging to stick to,” North said, “but they very well could have more satisfying results/outcomes.”

But viewing your long-term goals with a certain mentality is key to succeeding and enjoying that success.

James Clear, Atomic Habits author, explains the difficulties many face when working on long-term goals. “The implicit assumption behind any goal is this: ‘Once I reach my goal, then I’ll be happy.’ The problem with a goals-first mentality is that you’re continually putting happiness off until the next milestone.”

Though “focusing on the journey rather than the destination” is cliche, in this case, it really does work. Enjoying and being proud of every step of your journey — your first time going to a rock gym, your fifth time climbing a 40 foot rock wall, your second time free-climbing, and so on — is just as important and rewarding as finally scaling your mountain.

“When you fall in love with the process rather than the product, you don’t have to wait to give yourself permission to be happy,” writes Clear. “You can be satisfied anytime your system is running.”

If you’ve been struggling with your ambitious New Year’s resolution, or want to create a resolution for the Lunar New Year, try some of these habits that, with some persistence and strategizing, will lead you to your goal.


Goal Habit
Spend less time on phone Start a 20 or 30 minute timer every time you go on your phone for recreation. Once the timer goes off, read for at least 15 minutes.
Go to bed earlier Get ready for bed 10 mins earlier each week, until you’re going to bed an hour, hour and a half, or however earlier you desire.
Eat healthier food Every two weeks, swap out one thing of packaged food in your lunch for a fresh fruit or vegetable. Do this until at least ⅔ of your lunch consists of fresh produce.
Get more exercise Exercise for 10 – 20 minutes for two days of the week. Every other week, add five minutes onto your workout.
Stretch more often 20 minutes after you wake up, 5 minutes after you shower, and right before you go to bed, do some basic mobility stretches for 5 minutes. Each week, add an extra 5 minutes onto your stretching routine, and incorporate some deeper stretching.
Spend less money Take out a certain amount of cash from your bank account for every week or every other week. Only pay in cash. Keep your bank card inside your house so you aren’t tempted to use it when you go out.