5 Habits for Success in 2023
Coming up with New Year’s resolutions can be overwhelming, especially if you have a history of falling short come February. According to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18 to 254 days for a person to form a new habit. The study also concluded that, on average, it takes 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic. If you start working towards your resolutions on January 1st, 2023, 18 days would be January 19th for forming your earliest possible habit, 66 days would place you at March 8th for a habit to become automatic, and for some of those harder habits that take much longer to achieve, 254 days from the start of the new year would put you at September 12th.
While many people find themselves overly motivated the day after Christmas to finally lose the 50 pounds, to go on the dream trip to Europe, or even go back to school, many of us find ourselves at the end of the year with maybe 1–2 goals accomplished. What we often fail to recognize is that it’s not the goals we are failing to reach, but the small daily habits and routines we are failing to implement. And while there are many daily habits that are great to establish, below are 5 simple habits that are a great place to start in 2023 and improve your productivity in the new year, setting the foundational building blocks to help you achieve those really big goals. After all, New Year’s resolutions are popular for a reason, as studies show that goals are more likely to be met when you establish clear targets and take small steps to reach success.
- Read More Books:
Reading books is the most efficient, affordable, and engaging way to attain more knowledge. If you think about it, authors put so much time and effort into their craft and finished product, distilling years of research, life experience, and insight on pages you can read in a matter of days. Make it a point to read more in 2023, and if reading isn’t really your preference, audio books are available too. More frequent cognitive activity across the life span has an association with slower late-life cognitive decline that is independent of common neuropathologic conditions, consistent with the cognitive reserve hypothesis. Getting lost in a good read can make it easier for you to relate to others. Literary fiction, specifically, has the power to help its readers understand what others are thinking by reading others’ emotions, according to research published in Science. The impact is much more significant on those who read literary fiction as opposed to those who read nonfiction, According to a recent study by the University of Toronto, 166 people were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding their emotions and key personality traits, based on the widely used Big Five Inventory, which measures extraversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, emotional stability/neuroticism, and openness. Then half of the group read Anton Chekhov’s short story “The Lady with the Toy Dog,” while the other half of the group read a similar nonfiction version presented as a report from divorce court. At the end of the study, everyone was given the same questionnaire again, however, the majority of the fiction readers’ responses had significantly changed from their original responses.
2. Listen to Podcasts:
This is an easy way to learn while you’re getting ready, as podcasts are great to listen to during your morning routine, your commute to work, or even the gym. In fact, studies show that the brain is more active while listening to podcasts than when watching television, as research has shown that imagination can be a powerful tool. A study by the Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior suggests that when you listen to a story, it enhances your brain’s visual processes. Your brain is more likely to create more imagery than when you read in a traditional format and is even more active while listening compared to watching television as podcasts require listeners to use their imagination rather than spoon-feeding consumers with visual accompaniment. The greatest advantage of listening to podcasts (as opposed to watching television) is that you can listen on the go. Now you can be entertained or learn about a new topic such as budgeting or fitness to help you work towards your big goals — that big trip you always wanted to take or that weight loss you goal you have been wanting to achieve for years. This hands-free, eyes-free form of entertainment and learning will make you look forward to your morning commute and daily chores. Listen while you fold laundry, cook dinner, or wash the dishes, and it will make your workload seem much lighter. When it comes to podcasts, there are no visuals to depend on as listeners must get creative. In other words, narrative stories, like podcasts and audiobooks, allow listeners to use their imagination to create mental pictures of the characters and the storyline.
3. Take Time to Learn a New Skill or Further Develop a Skill:
While learning a new skill helps one become a life-long learner and gain further insight. In terms of a physiologically, learning new things is also good for your brain, for according to CCSU Business & Development, practicing a new skill increases the density of the white matter in your brain that helps improve performance on a number of tasks. Additionally, learning new skills stimulates neurons in the brain, which forms more neural pathways and allows electrical impulses to travel faster across them. The combination of these two things helps you learn better. It can even help you stave off dementia. There are plenty resources (both free and subscription based) available such as Skillshare, YouTube, or online classes through websites such as Coursera and Udemy.
4. Learn a New Language (and for real this time):
Many find themselves inspired and will often learn the basics, but without continuous care and use of the language, we often forget what we learned. A great way to foster and develop this skill is to consume content in that language (watch movies, music, YouTube videos in that language). There are also plenty of free and subscription language websites that are not only for a range of learning levels, but offer immersive and interactive opportunities for learners to engage and communicate with native speakers in group online sessions. There are many benefits to learning a new language, as a recent study conducted by Lund University measured the brains of learners with an MRI before and after short-term intensive language learning. They then compared these scans with those of medical students who’d been studying for exams. Researchers found that the brains of the language study group had physically changed. The hippocampus, the area of the brain responsible for learning and spatial navigation, plus three other parts of the cerebral cortex related to language learning, underwent structural changes and growth. The research also demonstrated that the more we study a foreign language, the easier it becomes for the brain to acquire a new language, due to the physical changes that occur in the brain regions that serve language functions.
5. Stay Hydrated and Start Moving:
By now you’ve probably heard the recommended advice of drinking half of your body weight in ounces of water daily. For those of you who struggle to even drink 1–2 glasses of water a day, this amount is going to seem nearly impossible to reach. This is where taking baby steps towards forming a new consistent habit will be important. Start off small by simply setting out a water bottle or a glass of water next to your coffee machine so that in the mornings, before you take a sip of anything else, you’ll drink a glass of water. Or start by trying to drink a glass of water before and after every meal, and after a while, you will not only begin to automatically do it, but you’ll probably find yourself feeling more full and less likely to overeat.
And while staying hydrated and eating healthy is important, exercise is just as essential to your overall health. Not into exercise or struggle with your current routine? Commit to moving your body 30 minutes, whether that be marching in place while cooking over the stove or going on a walk around the block; simply put, by decreasing your expectations surrounding exercise, and instead starting with a small and short routine, the amount of motivation required to get yourself off the couch will also greatly decrease. In other words, a walk around the block is not going to seem overwhelming compared to the amount of discipline it takes to take go for a 1-mile run, and as a result, you will be more likely to commit to the habit long-term and slowly increase the amount of time you are exercising. You may even be surprised how easy it is to turn that 5-minute walk into a 15-minute stroll once you get moving. Whether it’s a 5-minute yoga stretch, a full 30-minute walk, or trying to walk at least 10,000 steps, find a routine and activity that work best for your lifestyle and that you truly enjoy.
Everything you are today and all the goals and resolutions you hope to achieve, ultimately depend on the quality of the habits implemented in your daily life. Quite simply, if you put in the effort to improve your habits, your life will look different by the end of the year. However, there’s still no one-size-fits-all figure, which is why this time frame can greatly vary; meaning some habits are easier to form than others, and some people may find it easier to develop new behaviors. Maybe you won’t achieve all 5 of the habits listed above by December 2023, but you might still achieve 1 or 2, which puts you a couple steps ahead of where you were in 2022. There’s no right or wrong timeline. The only timeline that matters is the one that works best for you.