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The beginning of the new year closes one chapter and opens a new one, symbolically marking a clean slate. This calendar change and fresh start inevitably bring about setting new goals and making resolutions, but why is it so difficult to stick to the goals we set at the start of the year?

A potential answer to that question might be that goals for the new year are often a bit ambitious and require serious lifestyle changes. For instance, someone who doesn’t work out may set a new goal of hitting the gym four times a week. Though it’s a great goal, this will be difficult to achieve for someone who isn’t already in the habit of working out or setting time aside for the gym. In this case, it might be more realistic to start a new routine of gradually waking up earlier in the morning and moderating unhealthy foods. With the habit of slowly waking up earlier, you might find that now there’s much more free time in the day and it’s easier to squeeze in a couple gym sessions. 

Healthy habits, like waking up earlier, are the key to success when it comes to achieving those big goals and resolutions. Though starting new habits and routines may not initially appear to have dramatic results, they certainly accumulate when kept up with. As James Clear, author of the renowned Atomic Habits, writes, “changes that seem small and unimportant at first will compound and turn into remarkable results if you’re willing to stick with them.” 

A great example of an everyday healthy habit is reducing screen time. Small squares of technology quickly consume several hours of the day. From Instagram to TikTok, it’s easy to get lost in our phones for longer than we’d like to admit, and we tend to start and end the day with them. Some might detox by opting for a complete social media hiatus–but some might start somewhere less drastic. One way to reduce screen time could be to set your phone in another room or farther away from your bed to ensure your phone isn’t the first and last thing you look at. This habit also means you’re more likely to get out of bed faster in the mornings if you have to get up to turn your alarm off. 

A few other healthy habits to work towards in the new year can include making time for self-care. Mindful meditation, for one, has been known to present new perspectives on stressful situations and create a more positive overall outlook. Meditation can reduce stress, control anxiety, promote emotional health and even improve quality of sleep. Another habit geared towards wellness is increasing water intake. Whether you kickstart your day with a glass of water, or drink water gradually throughout the day, doctors agree that hydration is crucial for keeping the body functioning at its best. 

The list of healthy habits is endless and can include routines to incorporate either daily, like saying good night to devices early, or occasionally, like a one-day juice cleanse to detox and give the body a quick reset. Whichever habits you choose to work towards, it’s important to learn what does and does not work for you, as every body is different. This new year, shoot for the stars with goals and resolutions, but don’t forget to set up a healthy base of habits that will set you on the path of success.