Life Intelligence: Don’t make New Year’s resolutions for 2020

Photo by Jill Wellington on

If you still make New Year’s resolutions consider this – most people abandon theirs by February or March. I get it! You and everyone else finds the beginning of a new year a compelling reason to start anew in whatever way you wish to improve your life, health, and relationships. But why keep doing something that, at best, produces limited results?

You can lose the weight, get to the gym, learn to ride a unicycle, and whatever else you want in 2020 by adopting a simple but effective strategy – mini habits.

The reason most people fail their newly established resolutions is because they bite more than they can chew. For someone out of shape, working full-time, possibly raising children, possibly helping elders, possibly engaged in clubs and community organizations, to commit to going to the gym every day for an hour is not realistic and it will lead to exhaustion and frustration. However, most people can spear 10 min. Getting to the gym for a 10 min brisk walk on the treadmill on the way home is perfectly doable. In a person’s mind, 10 minutes is easy, and the resistance they would experience thinking about a whole hour of their time, huffing and puffing, immediately disappears. 10 min per day, is 70 min per week. That’s 70 min more than this person did before.

That is if 10 minutes is all the person does. If one is already at the gym, they are likely to stick around a little longer, perhaps another 10 min doing something else and feeling better for not only meeting their goal but exceeding it. On the other hand, on days things really pile up and 10 min is all a person could do, they won’t feel bad about only doing 10 min.

If meditating for 30 minutes feels excruciating to your back and to your mind, try meditating for 3 min every day. If on minute #3 you feel pretty good, keep going until you feel like getting up, 5 or 10 min later.

Most people think that it takes 21 days to establish a new habit. It takes closer to 60 days. You are not likely to keep doing something very demanding on your time and attention for 60 days without fail. But you are likely to complete low-threshold, low-demand activities regularly, thus succeeding in establishing your new habit. You will also find yourself doing more than you set out to do and boost your self-esteem, self-efficacy, and stay motivated to continue. And yes, you can establish more than one habit at the time – 10 min at the gym, 3 min of meditation, 15 min of learning Spanish on your phone app, reading 10 pages from a book every night. Master the mini-habit trick, and see how a little effort, a little at the time, amounts to huge change and an awesome life overtime.

Happy 2020.

Valentina Petrova has been helping people with life, health, relationships, financial, career, professional, and business challenges since 2015. She has a Master’s in Psychology and is a certified Life Coach. You can reach her at (805)909-1401, and watch her at

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