Many of us spend the first weeks of the year thinking about New Year’s resolutions, making lists of the things we’d like to accomplish, and resolving to build healthy habits. As an alternative to the usual tips and strategies, here are some approaches that you may find surprising or counter-intuitive.

5 Things to Try This Month


Stop doing something.

In addition to thinking about what you want start doing in 2024, think about what you want to stop doing. One of the easiest ways to cross something off the list is to decide you don’t want to do it at all!  Abandon a project you’ve lost interest in. Let go of something that just isn’t working. As for me, over the years I’ve started daily meditation three times, and I’ve stopped three times.


Talk more than you listen. 

While many people believe they’ll be more likeable if they talk less (the “reticence bias”), at least in this intriguing study, people who spoke more than half (but not more than 70%) of the time in conversation were found to be more interesting and likeable. It may be that when we speak more, the other person learns more about us, which increases feeling of similarity and therefore liking. Also, it takes work to talk with someone we don’t know, so maybe most people appreciate not having to carry the conversation.


Make things easier by making things harder.

In Better Than Before, I write about the 21 strategies of habit change, and one of the simplest, most effective strategies is the Strategy of Inconvenience. Making it harder to indulge in a habit makes it easier to resist engaging in that habit. It’s too inconvenient. For instance, a friend stores his remote control on a high shelf in a closet far from his TV. The effort and time needed to retrieve the remote control gives him a moment to think, “Do I really want to watch TV now?”


Plan to fail. 

Try to anticipate and minimize temptation, both in your environment and in your own mind. Use “if-then” planning to prepare for challenges that might arise: “If it’s raining, then I will exercise with an online cardio video.”


Invest in self-knowledge.

Self-knowledge is a key to happiness. When we know ourselves, we can build the lives we want on a foundation of our own nature, values, and experience. But it can be surprisingly hard to know ourselves. These Know Yourself Better Journals offer a variety of prompts to help you gain insight into different aspects of your life, and provide structure to help you develop a regular habit of reflection.

Gretchen Rubin holding her book The Happiness Project


Last chance to join The Happiness Project: Revisited course

Enrollment ends Friday. This is your last chance to join and build your own happiness project for 2024 with the structure, resources, and support that this course offers. Get 25% off the course with coupon code LASTCHANCE25.

Dive Deeper

person writing on brown wooden table near white ceramic mug


New Year’s Resolutions: What Not To Try


462: A Surprising Way to Be More Likeable, a Habit-Keeping Hack, and an Unusual In-Laws Problem

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