From Goals to Habits: Tips for Your 2023 New Year’s Resolutions!

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

– Will Durant

Can you believe it’s already December! 2022 flew by and if you’re anything like me, there’s a lot of goals you set at the beginning of the year that you have yet to accomplish. Goals can help us stay motivated and work towards a result we want, but they can also be a source of pressure and lead to negative feelings if we’re not able to accomplish them. That’s why this year, instead of setting goals for my New Year’s Resolution this year, I’m going to set habits.

Habits are actions that are automatic, things you do without conscious intention. Habits are different from goals because they focus on repeated on-going behavior, rather than a one-time achievement. For this reason, I think they’re more impactful than goals. Creating habits that align with your personal values is a powerful way to get closer to being the best version of yourself!

Here’s an exercise you can use to map your goals into habits that align to your values.

  1. Write out a list of all the goals you’d like to achieve. Don’t hold yourself back! Write everything down, no matter how hard it seems
  2. Next, go through your list and see if you find any common themes. For example, goals like “Eat more vegetables” and “Run a 10k” both fit under the category of “Health”
  3. Finally, see if you can summarize your goals in a few categories. What you’ve identified here are the values that motivate your goals. Here’s a sample below

Once you’ve written out your goals and identified the values that guide them, you can use this to come up with habits. Let’s take the goal of “Read 20 books” as an example. A related habit would be to read regularly. Though reading regularly might not result in reading 20 books next year (War and Peace is more than 1,000 pages long, you could read a lot and not finish that book!), developing the habit of reading will serve your value of “Learning & Self Development”. By doing this, you can still feel fulfilled and be closer to your goals, even if you don’t actually achieve them.

Now comes the hard part, actually making good habits automatic! The key to developing habits is repetition. The process will look different for everyone, but here are some ways research has shown are successful.

  • Come up with a plan
  • Think about how you’re going to start and repeat your habit until it becomes automatic
  • Use triggers
  • Find ways to remind yourself to engage in the habit. This could be a to-do list, reminders on your phone, or even a friend who’s willing to be your accountability buddy
  • Stack habits
  • Add new habits to your existing habits! If you have a cup of coffee every morning, try reading while drinking your coffee
  • Remove barriers
  • Make it easy for yourself to do the action. Keep the book you want to read on your desk or bedside table rather than putting it away on the shelf
  • Reward yourself
  • It’s important to celebrate your victories, even the small ones! Habits don’t develop overnight (studies show it can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months), but each day you repeat an action, you get closer to it becoming a habit

I would love to hear about other tips and tricks that have worked for you! Feel free to add them in the comments below.

I hope this helps as you think about what you want to accomplish in the next year. At the end of the day, New Year’s Resolutions should be fun and rewarding, not stressful! Inshallah, this post might give you some ways to identify and incorporate good habits into your life.



How to Build Healthy Habits – The New York Times

Designing a Good Life with Nick Epley

Atomic Habits by James Clear | Green Apple Books