Habits vs. Resolutions: Why Habits Are More Sustainable

Setting goals and establishing habits are both strategies people use to make positive changes in their lives, but they operate on different principles and timelines. Resolutions often involve setting specific, measurable goals to be achieved within a set period, whereas habits focus on cultivating regular behaviours that become ingrained in one’s daily routine that ensure you achieve the goals. 

Here’s why creating habits aligned with your goals is considered more sustainable than your New Year resolutions.

Consistency over Intensity

Resolutions often involve significant, sometimes drastic, changes that people try to implement all at once. This intensity can lead to burnout or discouragement if the goals are not quickly achieved. Creating habits based on your goals, on the other hand, prioritises consistency and gradual progress, making them more sustainable over the long term.

Behavioural Change Takes Time

Research in psychology suggests that forming a new habit typically takes about 21 to 66 days and, in some cases, even longer. This gradual approach allows individuals to adapt to the change, making it more likely to stick. Resolutions, often set with a fixed deadline, may not allow enough time for the necessary behavioural adjustments.

Integration into Daily Life

Creating habits becomes a natural part of your routine, seamlessly integrated into daily life. Goals, especially if they are temporary or short-term, may not have the same level of integration. Once a habit is established, the effort required to maintain it decreases, making it easier to sustain over the long run.

Automaticity and Cue-Response Associations

Habits operate on the principle of cue-response associations. Over time, certain cues trigger automatic responses, making the behaviour almost instinctive. Resolutions often lack this automaticity and may require continuous conscious effort to achieve the desired outcome.

Intrinsic Motivation

Habits are often built on intrinsic motivation, where the individual finds personal satisfaction or reward in performing the behaviour. Resolutions, especially those driven by external pressures or societal expectations, may lack the intrinsic motivation necessary for sustained effort.

Adaptability to Changing Circumstances

Habits are more adaptable to changes in life circumstances because they are part of a broader lifestyle. Resolutions, being specific and goal-oriented, may become less relevant or challenging to maintain if unexpected events or challenges arise.

Building a Foundation for Continuous Improvement

Habits serve as the foundation for continuous improvement. Once a habit is established, it becomes a platform for building additional positive behaviours. Resolutions, being often isolated goals, may not contribute as effectively to a continuous cycle of self-improvement.

Cultivating habits involves a gradual, consistent effort that integrates seamlessly into daily life, making them a powerful tool for personal development and well-being.

So, as you will now understand, while resolutions can be effective for setting specific targets, habits offer a more sustainable approach to long-term positive change.

What habits will you need to establish now to achieve your goals and resolutions?

Skip to content