New Year’s Resolutions vs. Sustainable Habits- How to Make Lasting Changes in December

New Year’s Resolutions vs. Sustainable Habits: How to Make Lasting Changes in December

Every year, as the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, you hear the mantra “New Year, New Me!” It’s the time when many of us craft ambitious New Year’s resolutions, dreaming of significant life changes. 

But let’s face it: these resolutions often don’t survive past January. So, let’s make this year different. In this blog, we’ll explore why traditional New Year’s resolutions tend to fizzle out and guide you towards a more effective approach: sustainable habit formation, starting this December.

Why Is It Difficult to Keep New Year’s Resolutions

Are you caught in the New Year’s resolution cycle? Around Christmas, you create a list of changes you want to make in the new year. Whether it’s to lose weight, quit smoking, or simply eat more vegetables, you say, “This is the year I achieve my goals”. But despite your best efforts and desire to change, you can’t seem to stick to your resolution past spring. 


This is a cycle we see too often. A 2022 study found that nearly ~70% of Canadians fail to stick to their January 1st resolutions past February. So, what gives? 

You’re thinking too big

When it comes to goals, many of us adopt the “go big or go home” mentality. Like, “I won’t eat carbs all year” or “I’m going to exercise every single day in 2024”. When in reality, these goals are unrealistic and unobtainable. Your body needs carbs for fuel. And what if you have the flu? Will you still work out?

It’s important to make resolutions that are specific and obtainable and that you can break down into bite-sized chunks. 

You don’t know why you want to change

Does your resolution align with your wants and needs? Or are you setting a certain resolution because you feel obligated to? Identifying the “why” behind the change is essential to achieving it. If your heart isn’t in it, you’ll lack the motivation and consistency you need to achieve long-lasting results.  

Remember, just because Jenny on your block set a goal to go to the gym at least 3 times a week doesn’t mean you have to. Find a form of exercise that excites you and stick with that. 

It’s bad timing

We know January is generally the “benchmark” for a fresh start. And maybe you see it as a clean slate to start your new routine or kick an old habit. 

But it’s also a time when you’re likely recovering from holiday stress, repacking Christmas decorations, and getting the kids back into the swing of school. Adding in a major lifestyle change at this point? Overwhelming. 

That’s why it’s important to take the timing of your resolution into account and consider starting small and early, like this December. 

What Makes December the Perfect Time to Make Changes to Your Habits

Did you know it takes 21 days to form a habit? That means if you start your New Year’s resolution in December, by January, the habit will already be in place, and you’ll be more likely to make a lasting change. Plus, you can use December as a practice run to iron out any issues (like HIIT class overlapping with school pick-up) — so you have time to work them out before January 1st.  

Saying you’ll start a new goal in January is like saying your diet starts on Monday after a week of binge eating. Why wait to make lifestyle changes when we can start reaping the rewards of an early resolution now? Make December the new January, and take some of the pressure off your NYE resolution setting.  

Why the “Tiny Habits” Method is Better for Lasting Changes

The “Tiny Habits” method developed by Dr. BJ Fogg, a behavioral scientist at Stanford University, is a game-changer for creating long-lasting lifestyle changes. 

What is the “Tiny Habits” Method?

Tiny Habits is a behavior change method that focuses on implementing small, manageable habits that lead to long-term, lasting changes in your behavior. This approach makes achieving your goals more manageable and attainable. 

What are examples of the “Tiny Habits” Method?

The Tiny Habits method focuses on small changes you can make that take less effort or time than big changes. For example:  

  • If you want to improve your push-ups, start by doing 1 push-up at the start of every workout. This will gradually build your strength without being overwhelming. 
  • If you want to eat healthier, start by adding 1 serving of vegetables to 1 of your meals a day. This is easier than overhauling your entire diet all at once. 
  • If you want to improve your sleep, start by turning off your electronic devices 10 minutes before bedtime. This way, you won’t feel disconnected for too long, but you will still improve your sleep hygiene. 

This approach is effective because it’s rooted in the way our brains work. Habits form through repetition and reward. And by starting small (vs a lofty resolution), you’re more likely to repeat the behavior and experience the satisfaction of accomplishing your goal, reinforcing the habit. 

5 Ways to Make Long-Lasting Lifestyle Changes in the New Year

1. Create SMART Goals

To make your goals more achievable, use the SMART criteria: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. For example, if you want to improve your fitness, set a goal like, “I will do three cycling workouts per week for the next three months.” This clear and precise goal helps you focus and track your progress.

2. Be Consistent

Consistency is key! Choose a regular time and situation for your new habit to make it part of your routine. For instance, you could decide to meditate for five minutes each morning after brushing your teeth. This builds a natural connection in your daily routine, making it easier to stick to your new habit.

3. Track and Reward Your Progress

Use a habit tracker (like a food journal/weight chart) or a simple calendar to keep track of your daily achievements. This visual representation of your progress can be incredibly motivating during times when you’re feeling discouraged because you feel like your progress plateaus.

Also, set up small rewards for yourself when you reach certain milestones. These can be as simple as treating yourself to your favourite snack or a relaxing bath, reinforcing the positive changes you’re making.

4. Find an Accountability Buddy

Sharing your goals and progress with someone else can greatly improve your chances of success. This could be a friend, family member, or an online community. They can provide encouragement, celebrate your successes with you, and give you a gentle nudge when needed. (Trust us, it’s way harder to skip a 5 AM workout when you know your training buddy is counting on you.)

5. Be Flexible

Remember, it’s okay to adjust your goals and methods as you go along. If you miss a day or encounter a setback, don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead, acknowledge the hiccup, adjust your plan if necessary, and continue forward. Being adaptable helps you stick with your new habits in the long run, even when life throws unexpected challenges your way.

Implementing these five strategies can significantly improve your ability to make and maintain meaningful lifestyle changes. By setting clear goals, being consistent, tracking progress, finding support, and staying flexible, you’ll be well on your way to a healthier, happier new year.

Wrapping it up: Small Steps to Big Changes

Remember that lasting changes come from small, consistent steps. This December, let’s ditch the “go big or go home” mindset and focus on building sustainable habits that will carry you through the New Year and beyond. 

Don’t forget to check out our blog and subscribe to our newsletter! We’re always sharing tips, tricks, and inspiration to help keep you motivated to move more — all year long. And if you haven’t already, like our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. We’d love it if you shared your journey with fellow movers or some resolution strategies that worked for you. You never know; your story could be the inspiration someone else needs to start their own health journey.  

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