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Commit to the New Year … 40 Days at a Time

Why do New Year's resolutions reliably fail? In part, because a year is a big commitment. Instead, build better habits 40 days at a time.

Joyful New Year
Photo by Sean Wells on Unsplash

… because 364 days is about 324 days too long

364 days is a long time for sticking to a new habit or behavior. So rather than make a New Year’sResolution for an entire year, try committing to 40 days at a time, instead.

Why 40 days? Studies show that it takes about that long to establish a habit. It’s also a long enough time to create a healthy challenge, but not so long that it’s unsustainable. Still, if 40 days seems like too long, try committing to your resolution for 21 days at a time, instead.

Here are some tips for making those resolutions stick one day (or 40) at a time:

Photo by bady qb on Unsplash
  • Be specific. Rather than say, “I want to be more mindful,” try: “In order to be more mindful I’ll meditate for 12 minutes a day for 40 days.” If you want to be more grateful, resolve to make a gratitude list containing 10 items every evening before bed for 40 days.
  • Choose a touchstone. A touchstone is an object, such as a feather, shell, stone, coin, or piece of jewelry, that will remind you of your commitment. Your touchstone should also be small enough to carry in a pocket or purse, to keep your reminder close at hand for the duration of your 40-day commitment.
  • Aim for progress, not perfection. Be gentle with yourself. If you forget you resolution for a day or two, simply return to, and re-commit, as soon as you remember.
  • Celebrate. Mark the conclusion of your 40-day commitment on your calendar. On Day 40 celebrate your success, and repeat the process for the next 40 days.

Resolve to do New Year’s Resolutions differently. Today’s post is part of a series on mindful ways of creating New Year’s Resolutions that work. You can read the first post when you click here. Then follow along.

This post is inspired by Joy in Every Moment, by Tzivia Gover.
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