The Simple Secret to Creating New Habits That Actually Stick

The Simple Secret to Creating New Habits That Actually Stick

The solution is not to steel your resolve. The solution is to promise yourself less.

When I was a pimply teenager, I was obsessed with the idea of creating new habits around New Year’s resolutions. I would grab my notebooks in the middle of December and plot out all the ways that I would be different when the clock struck 12:01. Next year, I’d be a gym rat. A reader. A non-smoker. A saint.

And, inevitably, by February, I’d failed. I never met a resolution that I couldn’t justify breaking. My study times grew blurrier and disappeared. My workouts went from twice a day to once a week. I was back to smoking a pack a week by President’s Day.

Then I read an old self-help book that my dad gave me, one that told me it took only 28 days to form a new habit. That’s just 4 weeks, I thought. Any chump can stick with a thing for 4 weeks, even a guy with my lagging levels of self-discipline. I started setting monthly resolutions instead of annual ones, and for the first time, started keeping them. Some simple math: 30 days are a lot more manageable than 365. If you’re stubborn like me, you can convince yourself of anything for a month. Grit your teeth and watch the finish line come bouncing up the road ahead of you.