I am just as guilty as the next person for declaring a million new goals for the new year only to get burned out a month in. That’s why I’ve been planning and prepping for some of my bigger goals so I can know the ropes before 2020 begins.
When it comes to habits, I’m trying a new strategy. I’m going to pick up one new habit every month and dedicate those thirty or so days to a single task. By limiting my focus, I’m giving myself the time and energy to develop one habit at a time. So, here are 20 habits options you can choose to pick up for a successful 2020 (remember, just pick one a month).
1. Morning/evening gratitude
Just listing out the things we are thankful for helps put us in a more positive mood. That can translate throughout our day. Doing it at night will also change our frame of mind. Finding the positive throughout the day can help change our perspectives and help us de-stress after a tough day.
Commit to a short goal at first, something you absolutely cannot fail at. Maybe that’s a 15 minute walk outside or a 10 minute run every morning. Spend five minutes doing three different exercises that target your core, legs, and arms. Start with manageable chunks and reevaluate every week or month to see what you can increase.
3. Passion Project
Dedicate time toward your passion project. Find some creative outlet that can help you set your day up on a positive note or close your day with some de-stressing. Find a new hobby to try and schedule it into your day so you can’t cancel on yourself. Volunteer for a program you are passionate about and give a helping hand.
Spend time focusing on your breath. Sit uninterrupted and calm your mind. Notice the tension that has built up and slowly release it. Follow along with an app or just find something on YouTube. Maybe you work better with some light sounds in the background or some guidance, but see if you can sit in silence for just a few minutes every day.
5. Join a community group
Maybe this group is related to a hobby you like, or your passion project. Find a community of support for something you enjoy. Being surrounded by others who have the same passion as you can be invigorating. Joining a group of volunteers can help build your social awareness and you can support a bigger cause. Use it to find friends and be social with others who share your values.
Take five minutes out of every day to declutter one area of your home. Determine things that you can get rid of, or minimize. Remember, organizing is just planned hoarding, so be honest with yourself when decluttering. If you haven’t used it recently, and are only holding on for a what-if scenario, think about letting it go. The Minimalists have set up some “rules” you can follow if you are having trouble letting go of things.
7. See a nutritionist
I refrain from using diet here because sometimes we jump into new eating routines without developing a proper plan. If you have the resources, see a nutritionist. They will be able to help create a plan that will work for your body and your needs. Make sure you do your research before starting something new. You need to have the proper nutrients to achieve your goals.
Schedule time out of your day to read. Maybe that’s on your commute, maybe that’s in the morning while everyone else is sleeping, or maybe that’s part of your nightly routine. Find books you enjoy, or tie it in with a community reading group that you’ve joined. Make every bit of this habit something you enjoy. Indulge in that steamy romance or whisk away to a magical land.
9. Drink more water
It’s obvious, but water is good for you. Keep a water bottle on you at all times and as soon as you empty it, fill it up. Think about replacing all of your drinks with water, but start small. Use water fills and bathroom trips as scheduled breaks throughout your day. Get up every hour, stretch your legs, and keep drinking.
10. Find a 30-day challenge
This can range from anything — workout challenges, writing challenges, creative challenges. Dedicate yourself to 30 days of something that will put you out of your comfort zone. Stretch your limits and make the challenge something fun to look forward to. You can also tie it in to any of these other goals.
11. Create a consistent bedtime/wake up
The better our evening and morning sleep schedules are, the better we sleep and the more productive we are throughout the day. Resist the temptation to snooze in the morning. Fight the urge to sleep in on the weekends. Creating consistency will help the weekday mornings improve.
12. Turn off electronics at least an hour before bed
Use the time to connect with your family, establish a routine, and generally relax at the end of the day. We are constantly attached to our devices, and giving ourself a break away from the glowing screen will improve our moods and our sleep. If you get bored waiting for bedtime, pick up a new habit, read, meditate, or fill the time with something you find of value.
13. Develop a morning/evening routine
By creating a schedule or chain of events to follow, you prepare your body for the day ahead or for sleep. Determine a few habits you want to make into a morning routine. These might be exercise, sit and drink coffee/tea, shower, and determine your top 3 priorities. It doesn’t have to be a giant list of things to do, but this can help create a process to get you moving in the mornings. The same goes for evening routines, but this will help you wind down for bed. It’s best to make these habits relaxing and rewarding so you don’t dread them.
14. Reduce caffeine/alcohol/processed sugar consumption
While reducing all of these things are beneficial to your health, make sure you reduce them gradually. If your body is used to these things in high amounts, cutting them out completely could shock your system. Find little changes throughout your day to minimize these things. If you aren’t sure how, consult a nutritionist and see if you can develop a plan.
15. Meal prep
For those of us dedicating ourselves to a cleaner eating schedule, meal prep is the best way to keep us focused on our goals. Dedicate a portion of Sunday to prepare for the week ahead. Test out new Pinterest recipes so you don’t eat the same meal every day. Use that as an opportunity to cook with your partner or teach your kids the importance of healthy eating.
16. Designate no-spend days
This can also help with your eating habits in addition to helping you save money. Designating no-spend days means you should not spend any money at all during the 24 hour day. That means no impulse purchases, no completing your Amazon cart order, and no going out to eat. If you have these days built in ahead of time, make sure you plan the rest of your week (groceries, shopping, etc.) around that day.
17. Spend time with yourself
Sometimes we just need a moment alone so we can recover and rejuvenate. Alone time can be spent in silence at home, walking on a trail, going for a run, or just doing an activity by yourself. Consider going to a movie by yourself or finding a spot in the library or bookstore to sit and read. Dare I say you should sit alone with your thoughts? Try it.
18. Prepare for the day
As part of your evening or morning routine, consider sitting down and scheduling out your next day. Determine your 3 most important tasks to complete the next day. Those can be work-related tasks, but try to include one passion project task as well. Mixing in things you enjoy as well as work items can help you get through some of the tougher chores. When you complete those three things, if you still have time in your day, designate three or fewer tasks to accomplish with your remaining time.
19. Limit your time on social media
Sure, the online community is great, especially when they are supportive, but we all need time away from the screen. Set limits on your apps to help reduce mindless scrolling. Delete the apps entirely so you aren’t tempted to check them. Turn off the internet on your computer when you’re working so you aren’t feeling the urge to go check Facebook. Spend some time disconnected with technology and connect with the world around you.
20. Change the people around you
I personally believe the biggest challenge people face when creating new habits is that they don’t change the environment they are in. For people who are eating healthy, they still keep unhealthy foods in the house which tempts them. Individuals who want to exercise in the morning still let their alarm show a snooze option. If they elect to work out in the evening, they come home and get busy with other tasks or turn on the TV until it’s too late to exercise.
“You can’t change the people around you, but you can change the people around you” — The Minimalists
That environment also includes the people you surround yourself with. We are not in control of what other people do, but we can control who we spend our time with. If you are trying to cut out alcohol, but your friends continue to invite you out for drinks, maybe you need to consider new friends or offer up new suggestions for activities. If you are trying to save money, learn to say no to the coworker who asks you to go out to lunch with them every day of the week.
You not only have to create the environment for success, you also have to surround yourself with others who will support you through your new habits.
Remember, trying to take on a million new habits at once is a surefire way to fail. Take one of these challenges every month of the new year, or make your own new habit. By limiting our focus, we can give our time and energy into improving ourselves one small habit at a time. It makes our habits more manageable and sets us up for success in the new year.
I’ll be documenting my habits and goals as the year progresses. Sign up for my newsletter for updates and other awesome happenings as I work to self-publish my second novel and take on some new writing challenges.