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How To Turn New Year's Resolutions Into Sustainable Habits

Written by: Christiane Foerster, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Towards year end many of us start to think about our New Year's resolutions – the seemingly perfect opportunity to make a fresh start in January…

hand of a man writing a new year's resolution on a piece of paper.

Being a stress coach, my first impulse would certainly be to ask “Why only in January? Why not right now?” – well, let's leave this aspect aside for now and focus on the process:

The hamster wheel of good resolutions

Throughout the year we keep thinking that we need to improve certain areas of our lives: Exercise regularly, eat healthier, drink less alcohol, get more fresh air, have less stress – list goes on and on.

As year end approaches we make a resolution to really start off fresh in January and become a different person. Maybe we even write down our action plan and hang it visibly on the refrigerator.

When January comes, we are still wildly motivated – this time it will definitely work out. Not like last year and the year before…

We manage to follow our resolution once, twice, or even a couple more times. But, once our everyday life has caught up with us again, our priorities shift. Just like last year and the year before…

The consequence: Increased stress, self-depreciation and feelings of inferiority. We put ourselves down because once more we have failed to be more disciplined.

Mind you:

If you have not managed to implement your resolutions sustainably so far, you have most likely missed these important steps

Sustainable growth happens in a model that is similar to a staircase: Know the theory ‒ test it ‒ reflect it – grow, step by step.

In other words:

  • Choose one thing from your resolution list and translate it into an operable target, e.g. do sports twice a week in order to regain physical strength.

  • Important: Choose only ONE thing, not 10!

  • Even more important: You are only TESTING something – no pressure!

  • Define a date and time to test it. E.g. next Monday and Thursday during lunch break you will go for a 30-minute run.

  • Reflect afterwards: Did it work? If so, why? If not, why? How did you feel? If it did not work maybe the reason was that you were under time constraints, you did not feel well or there was a last-minute meeting request from your boss. Just make yourself aware of the reasons – no pressure!

  • Define the next test: How could you adapt test no. 1 to increase the chance to make it work? E.g. block the time in your calendar to ensure that no one will interfere with additional meeting requests, or have your lunch box already prepared so you will not lose additional time.

  • Test it.

  • Repeat above steps until you have found a setting that works for you.

  • Extend the scope to cover more of your resolutions – one by one – and repeat the steps.

In a nutshell, there are three aspects to be considered when adopting new habits:

  • Concentrate on ONE thing at a time.

  • Keep the “test” mindset throughout the process – do not put pressure on yourself.

  • Never miss the reflection step after every test! Only if you really become aware of the reasons why it did not work, will you be able to improve – coaching can support you here.

Follow me on LinkedIn, and visit my website for more information on stress coaching and healthy stress management


Christiane Foerster, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Christiane Foerster is an experienced stress coach with a passion for healthy stress management. Having worked in various executive positions in the automotive industry for over 20 years, Foerster experienced herself to what extent constant negative stress can harm both physical and mental health. She decided to quit from her corporate position, become a stress coach and help others to manage their stress in a healthy and productive way.



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