For many people, every New Year comes with the New Year’s Resolution. These usually take the shape of fairly life-changing goals, such as finding a new job or finally getting ripped for the summer.
However, such a mindset is destined for failure.
Sure, it’s a good idea to have overarching goals. They provide a sense of focus and a general direction to head towards. But it isn’t sustainable. Think about it, if you woke up every day telling yourself “I need to find a job”, the enormity of it all will weigh heavy. You can’t just find the perfect role with the click of your fingers. If anything, a constant reminder of your overarching goal will weigh you down.
Big changes require small actions. More specifically, micro-habits. By implementing any of the seven micro-habits I’ll explain in this article, you put yourself in the best possible position to change your life in a positive way. With each small habit, you’re chipping away at your goals and dicing them up into smaller, more attainable pieces.
Planning, Planning, Planning
When thinking about going on holiday, the planning is unlikely to be your first thought. Of course, you may love the planning process, but it’s easy to forget how crucial it is, not just for a stress-free trip but in every day life too.
If you’re looking to change your life for the better, planning is something that can dramatically help.
Let’s take your daily routine. One thing off-putting about exercise – particularly the gym – is the length of the process. Think about it, you need to get ready, travel, workout, go home, and then cook a meal. It’s not the quickest process in the world, but with a bit of simple planning, you can save yourself so much time and mental energy required to exercise in the first place.
For example, you could get your bag and clothes ready the night before you leave (this helps when getting up early for anything). You can plan your workout from there, eliminating the headache of which machine to use.
A more significant step is meal preparation – a valuable time-saving tactic for everyone. You could cook a batch of lunch meals for the week, helping your day move along swiftly without needing to stop and cook.
A prominent part of changing your life is about maximising your time. Planning gives you some back.
Even though the pandemic normalised remote working, a few similar elements carry over. For example, even though you’re not in an office, you’re likely at a laptop sitting in an office chair.
To change your life, the difference lies in how you take a break. In an office setting, it’s perhaps tempting to go from sitting behind a computer at your desk to sitting in a break room looking at a phone. While you have more freedom at home, the comforts of a sofa and television are not far away.
Instead, take an active break. This means changing your current state. If you’ve been sitting behind a screen, take a walk. Go and play with your dog, or perhaps a stretch. Changing your environment and state as much as you can paves the way for recharging.
After all, we’re only human. We cannot work for 9 hours straight, and your body won’t properly realise it’s time for a break if you do a similar activity all the time.
Recharging, even if it’s just for ten minutes, is a vital tool to have when trying to turn your life around.
Get the Right Water Bottle
Of course, everyone knows the benefits of drinking more water. It keeps you alive, after all. That being said, it’s often a forgotten thing, as dehydration is unlikely to be at the top of your concerns when your mind is elsewhere.
You could set reminders to drink water, but there’s a more you-friendly way.
Think of your water bottle as your trusted companion. Sure, you may have friends or family, but a water bottle will go absolutely anywhere with you, always providing aid in a time of dehydrated need.
The type of water bottle you have can dramatically change how you drink it. For example, bottles with straws in them are becoming incredibly popular because of how easy they are to use. By not needing to lift your head up and over, sipping water is something that will slowly become habit.
After all, it’s the little things.
Learn the Power of a Playlist
Music flows all around us. There’s a song for every mood. Whether you’re running Shrek-style through a field of flowers or setting the tone for a study session, music has an innate ability to draw emotion out from within.
Organising your music into specific playlists allows you to pick and choose the type of music you need instead of continuously searching for songs. Remember, changing your life is mainly about saving your time – time you can better use elsewhere.
What are micro-habits? It’s in the name. If the habit is too daunting to begin, you’re much less likely to persevere. That’s why micro-habits need to be as easy and accessible as possible.
There’s perhaps nothing more simple than daydreaming. While kids may be told off for it at school, it can actually be a very powerful tool. You see, daydreaming isn’t wasted time. It’s thinking time.
Take J.R.R Tolkein, author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit series’. It’s claimed he thought of Middle Earth and everything else besides while daydreaming during a marking session as a university professor. J.K Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, imagined a bespeckled boy with a scar on his head while daydreaming on a train.
Daydreaming may be forgettable most of the time, but it can lead to some beautiful ideas, which is great for creativity – a tool everyone should employ if they wish to change their lives.
Ask Yourself One Question
There’s one phrase we’ve all likely heard: if you don’t ask, you don’t get. It’s so popular because it’s true. Asking in the first place can be difficult, however. Start by asking yourself a simple question:
“What’s the worst that could happen?”
In many instances, the worst is a “no.” I’m here to tell you that’s okay. The word “no” itself isn’t a bad thing. It’s the negativity surrounding it that does the damage. If the worst thing to happen in that scenario is being told “no”, then you have nothing to lose.
Micro-Analyse Your Behaviour
No one likes a micro-manager. That annoying presence constantly looming over your shoulder and picking at all your work is one many will relate to, but that’s not what this means. By micro-analysing your behaviour, you’re able to understand it with much more depth than otherwise.
For example, let’s say you procrastinate more than you like. When you dig deeper, you might notice that you put off a task because you’re worried it may amount to nothing, so not doing it is a way of protecting yourself from any kind of rejection. By learning that, you can adjust. For instance, you may choose to split tasks up into smaller chunks to more easily feel like you’ve achieved something.
The problem many have with micro-analysing is the lens they see it through. Realising some patterns of behaviour you don’t like mustn’t be met with self-hate. Instead, it’s an opportunity to learn and grow.
Conclusion – The Smaller, the Better
The less time you spend catching up from mistakes, whether through a lack of planning or not learning from unfavourable behaviour, the more time you’ll have to look at the bigger picture.
If there’s anything you should take away from this article, it’s this. Big, dramatic changes don’t happen overnight, nor is it likely one singular action will make a difference. Instead, implementing small, micro-habits helps you make achievable, positive alterations in your life which, when put combined, make a significant change.
It’s this very concept that propelled James Clear to international recognition with his bestselling book Atomic Habits. Throughout the book, he argues that the biggest reason people don’t fulfil their goals is that the path toward them is murky and too daunting.
Micro-habits remove the fear and place your future firmly in your hands.