You usually hear (or say yourself), “New year, new me.” But whenever you do decide to better yourself, you may try to change everything at once, then quickly revert to old habits after realizing how difficult a total transformation can be.
Health author Leo Babauta told Greatist that when a person adopts a single habit, the chance that he or she will stick to it for a year is 80 percent. When that person tries to take on multiple habits at once, the chance of staying with it for a year is 20 percent. In other words, take each healthy step at a time to see real results a year from now.
Try focusing on one goal per month and mastering that healthy change. Keep up with that same habit the following month, but place your focus on reaching a new goal. Research shows it takes 66 days for a behavior to become automatic, so keep that in mind when things get tough. If you skip just one day, your progress could be lost!
If you aren’t sure what your goals for this transformation should be, follow along with this month-to-month outline. It covers the basics for fitness, nutrition, mental health and social wellness, but if you’re more interested in improving your life in a single area, set your own healthy goals and motivate yourself to reach them! For increased motivation, ask friends or family to join you on your quest to being your best. Being held accountable for your actions by others will make you more excited than ever to reach — or exceed — your goals.
January | Drink more water: Start the year off with a goal to get hydrated. Drinking the right amount of water each day is vital for your body, can improve your skin and hair, and can even help you lose weight. Use this calculator to see what your daily water goal should be, then try these eight easy ways to reach it each day!
February | Get better sleep: Resting — really resting — is essential to keep us energized and looking our best (and no, you can't train yourself to need less sleep). The CDC reports that nearly 30 percent of adults get less that six hours of shut eye per night. This month, focus on sleeping seven to eight hours per night, even if that means the dishes need to wait an extra day.
>> Read more: 18 Things You Can Do to Sleep Better at Night
March | Take a new class: If you've been curious about kickboxing, try it! If you think the new gym down the road looks fun, give it a go! Spend the month exploring new classes, gyms or groups two to three times throughout the week. Do research and find what you like; you’ll be more likely to stick to it if you're in love with what it offers. Once you find the class(es) for you, make yourself a regular participant.
>> Don't know where to start? Check out the classes that are ruling 2015.
April | Control your portions: You are probably overeating without even realizing it! This month, learn what a serving of your favorite foods looks like and practice portioning those foods on your plate. Buy tools that will keep your portions under control and you'll learn to give yourself the amount of food your body actually needs!
May | Meditate, write or reflect: To keep your mind as sharp as your body, you've got to spend some time reflecting on your own thoughts. Whether you think best by taking a few minutes of "me" time, meditating, or keeping a gratitude journal, set aside some time every day to reflect on the day's experiences and channel your emotions.
>> Read more: Signs You May Be Headed For a Mental Breakdown
June | Eat the rainbow: Most produce is at its peak ripeness this month, so enjoy the fun flavors of summer! Use this printable chart for your kids (and yourself) to get the family focused on eating fruits and veggies daily. Focus on eating fresh, real ingredients eating foods that provide your body with nutrients.
July | Get active outdoors: Get some vitamin D and take your workouts outdoors. Spend 30 minutes each day outside with your family or sign up and train for a summer race! Need added motivation? Follow our 31 Days of Active challenge and see how many activities you can complete.
August | Read every day: Being your best self means continually learning, and what better way to learn that to envelop yourself in a great story? Treat yourself to a book you've been dying to read and wind down every night by reading a chapter or two. It's a calming way to move your focus from life's chaos and throw yourself into the story.
>> Reading also makes your kids more excited to read! See 9 ways books make your kid awesome at life.
September | Prep your meals: School’s starting and that means you’re busier than ever. Do yourself a favor and spend the month focused on prepping your family's meals a week in advance. Find the shopping plan, prep schedule and storage method that works best for you, then stick to it!
October | Participate in a challenge: Switch up your workout routine by pushing yourself to complete a month-long fitness challenge. If there's a specific area you'd like to target, find an existing challenge or create your own. Browse through our past challenges for more motivation.
November | Volunteer or donate: Teach gratitude and thoughtfulness to your children by focusing on the gift of giving this month. Each week, perform a small act of kindness for someone in your neighborhood, volunteer at a local program or donate a few dollars to the charity your favorite store is supporting. Fall in love with giving back and keep it up in the following months.
>> Read more: Why Being Kind is Good for Your Health
December | Bring in reinforcements: You’ve made 11 new healthy habits, so now's the time to put them all to the test and teach others to do the same! Sharing what you've achieved with those close to you will improve your relationships and help the people you love lead healthier, more fulfilling lives. With these "fit friends," create new goals for January and get motivated together!