Building healthy goals and habits beyond New Year’s resolutions

March 13, 2024

Establishing healthy goals and building habits beyond New Year’s resolutions

A few months into the new year, many of us have lost all steam for those shiny resolutions. While it can be tempting to just let them go and chalk it up to another failed resolution, this can actually be the perfect time to reassess your goals, your ‘why’s’ and get inspired again. There’s a reason why Atomic Habits by James Clear is a consistent bestseller; we all want to be the best versions of ourselves, and if you can provide a clear roadmap with scientific evidence, many of us will feel more compelled to give it a go.

Keep reading for some tried and tested techniques to get your goals into gear.

Make SMART goals

The specificity of SMART goals provides a precise outline of what needs to be accomplished, eliminating any (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) ambiguity you may have about what you want to achieve and your ‘why’. Including measurable criteria for your new habits and goals allows you to track (and celebrate) your progress, giving you motivation to keep going. Achievability and relevance keep your goals realistic and aligned with what is important to you. Lastly, the time-bound nature of these goals gives you a deadline to work towards, allowing you to stay more focused and consistent in creating lasting habits.

Watch your language

“I have to go outside to walk 10,000 steps today”, “I forgot to spend time practising yesterday, so I’ve failed” - how many times have you spoken to yourself like this? Neurolinguistic programming, or NLP for short, is a technique that uses language to help reshape the brain by focusing on how you speak to yourself and others. NLP can be used to actually shift mindsets, rewire the brain, and reinforce commitment to positive new behaviours.

Next time you’re getting ready to hit the gym for the third time that week or journal in your new diary for your mental health, think about how you get to do that. Gratitude for these beneficial new changes can go a long way to restructuring what feels like a chore into what feels like an enjoyable activity.

You can learn more about how to practice NLP techniques here.

Buddy up

Sometimes, the scariest part of setting a new goal or habit for yourself is going it alone. Suffering on your own is not going to make the habit stick any more effectively! If you know someone who is keen to form a similar habit or try something outside their comfort zone, rope them in. Having an accountability buddy is a proven method for successfully sticking to a new habit. We’re far more likely to follow through when we know someone else is relying on us. Plus, when you reach a new milestone or achieve success, having someone to celebrate it with will be all the sweeter.

If you’ve got your sights set on building healthier habits around exercise, check out our top five tips for optimising your routine.

Try meditation for achieving goals

Self-hypnosis can be a powerful self-development tool that can create neuroplastic changes from the comfort of your own couch (or bed) while you’re still fully in control. Limiting beliefs lurk in our subconscious and form barriers to creating new habits. Tony Robbins refers to limiting beliefs as “the stories we tell ourselves about who we are that hold us back from becoming who we are meant to be”. Guided self-hypnosis can help you reveal these blocks and effectively ‘rewire’ your brain to accept and establish new habits easily to reach your full potential. Activities like self-hypnosis and meditation are associated with theta brain waves, which reduce the awareness of our surroundings and promote neuroplasticity.[1] 

A guided self-hypnosis recording can help you identify new habits you would like to build and visualise yourself doing them with ease. Try one of the many self-hypnosis apps or free YouTube videos on self-hypnosis for goal setting.


One of the many practical applications from the bestselling book Atomic Habits is the concept of habit stacking; here, you take something you do every day as a non-negotiable. This could be something as simple as brushing your teeth, drinking your morning coffee, or waiting for the bus. Add a new habit you would like to establish to one of these current habits or routines. Of course, the new habit will need to fit into your current habit without too much friction for this to work.


Here are some examples of small changes you can make to your everyday activities:

• As soon as you’ve made your coffee in the morning, you sit down with your journal and free-write

• Before you drink your morning coffee, you add one scoop of your favourite super greens powder to your water and drink it to boost your nutrition for the day

• While brushing your teeth, you think of five things you’re grateful for

• As you wait for the bus, you spend five minutes practising your French using your language app

• When you make your dinner, you add one extra serving of vegetables you wouldn’t normally eat.

• Every time you get up to go to the bathroom at work, you take one extra minute to stretch and fill your water bottle.

The pursuit of healthy new goals and habits extends far beyond the confines of ‘New Year’s resolutions’. Embracing positive changes is a continuous and non-linear journey. Arming yourself with some new techniques will give you the confidence to set your new goals and achieve them.


  1. Psychology Today. Mind your theta: achieving theta activity with meditation. Written January 2022, accessed February 2024 from