I’m not making any resolutions for the year ahead.

In my experience, it’s a self-defeating exercise that always ends up with me not seeing it through to the end of the year.

If you’re thinking along the same lines, then what’s the alternative to making improvements without failing?

Have you ever noticed how bad habits stick like watching television, sitting on the couch, and mindlessly thumbing through timelines on social media? These are not good habits to get into, but the thing about them is that they’re easy to do. They just don’t require any thought whatsoever.

What if we could just as quickly get into good habits rather than bad habits?

Well, this is what worked for me when I first started building good habits.

I started with just one habit.

I started getting into the habit of writing every day. To help remind myself to write, I set the alarm on my phone to give me the nudge to start writing. When my phone went off, I would then start writing. That’s all I did for a whole month. A habit built up every day. And it worked. It’s still working. I’m writing this, aren’t I?

The following month I added another alarm on my phone to do something else the next month and kept it going through the year. By the end of the year, I had built up some good habits that helped me through the day.

The problem many people face with new year resolutions is that they try to do too much at once. It’s like trying to lift weights at the gym. You just can’t bench press 100kg unless you’ve trained your body to get into the habit of being able to bench press 100kg. To achieve such a weight, you need to start with a smaller load and then gradually build up to the target weight.

Habits are the same.

You start small (ideally with one) and then build them up.

Tracking your habits is a great way to build them up. I’ve tried some habit tracking apps over the last year, but the one that works for me is Productive. It was the first habit tracking app that I tried, and nothing else I’ve tried has been as easy to use.

The good thing about tracking apps is that they give you a sense of success when you’ve reached a significant milestone like completing the habit for a week or even a month. Productive and other habit tracking apps have reminders built in as well, so it keeps all your habit building needs in the one place.

So, forget the new year resolutions and set yourself a short-term habit to achieve for the next few days. Once you’ve completed a few days with it, extend the practice for a few more days and keep at it. In no time you’ll find that you’ve been able to get into your intended habit daily and by the end of a period of a few weeks it will become more of something that you just do.