The 21-Day Challenge

No one sets resolutions with the intention to wane halfway through the year. But high hopes often turn into mediocre follow through by the time summer comes around.

Everyone wants to believe that self-improvement is possible on some level in the New Year, at least it would seem that way with all the New Year's resolutions to:

  • Lose weight
  • Get fit
  • Eat right

The sad truth is that most resolutions are doomed; as many as 90 percent are said to fail. Why? Resolutions can fail for any number of reasons: Maybe they're too broad, too big, too undefined or too drastic.  

More: 10 Tips to Make Your New Year's Resolution Last Forever

Rather than set a resolution that will likely fail, start a small, simple habit instead.

My story: Last year, I wanted to stop drinking alcohol because it disrupted my sleep, added unnecessary weight and made me feel crappy the next day. My new habit was to stop drinking alcohol. It was a simple, well-defined action (or rather lack of action) focused on only one thing (not drinking alcohol) rather than trying to do many things at once.

Believe it or not, the hardest part was making the commitment to myself to stop drinking. After that I just took it one day at a time.

After a few weeks, I was confident I could keep going. Not drinking alcohol bacome a habit and that habit became easier the longer I continued.

The 21-Day Challenge

According to Stephen Covey, author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, it only takes 21 days to form a habit. And you truly can do anything for 21 days.

So, pick a habit, something simple that will enable you to become "better" this year.  For example, if your goal is to lose weight (like many resolutions), focus on one of the behaviors that causes weight gain such as drinking soda or and fruit juices that are loaded with sugar. This makes it easier to measure; you either are or are not doing something concrete. 

Write down your new habit to make it more real and post it somewhere visible (like your bathroom mirror) as a constant reminder.

Other places to remind yourself of your new habit are:

  • Put a note on your refrigerator.
  • Set an outlook reminder.
  • Set an alert notification on your smartphone.
  • Place a note on your car steering wheel.
  • Send a daily email to yourself.

Try your habit on for three weeks and re-evaluate. If it doesn't work for you, find something else. If it does work, consider adding a new habit and build from there.

More: Nutrition Basics for Life and Training

Active logoGet healthy for your next event.

About the Author

Discuss This Article

Follow your passions

Connect with ACTIVE.COM