Microsteps for those challenging New Year’s resolutions

January is already almost over and soon we hit that time where New Year’s resolutions start to fall apart.  Or at least head towards a “slow crumble” of sorts.   One recent research study conducted by

January is already almost over and soon we hit that time where New Year’s resolutions start to fall apart.  Or at least head towards a “slow crumble” of sorts.   One recent research study conducted by Strava, the social network for athletes, found that Saturday, January 12 is the day of most New Year’s resolutions go kaput.  Looking at 31.5 million online global activities during the month of January, researchers were able to determine the date when most people report that their resolutions have failed.  They recently announced the prediction for 2020’s “Quitter’s Day” as Sunday, January 19th – when most people will give up on their New Year’s fitness-related resolutions. It certainly is within the realm of possibility that this “Quitter’s Day” could relate to other New Year’s non-fitness resolutions as well, as change can be plain HARD no matter what it is we are trying to change, right?


If you didn’t quite meet your goals and those resolutions started disintegrating quicker than you would like, consider the concept of “microsteps” as you look at re-grouping and starting again.   And YES, do consider starting again! Habits are not formed overnight. 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 range is very broad, as some habits take longer to form than others, according to researchers.  The point being that just because you might have stumbled, give yourself more time to create those habits as they do take time.  Microsteps might just be the key to being successful.


What are microsteps and why are they important? Microsteps are small, manageable steps you can take to improve your health and overall lifestyle. By starting small and building small positive elements into your daily routine, you are on the path to bigger and lasting change.  The concept of microsteps is originally rooted in behavior change theory.  A researcher at Stanford University, Dr. B.J. Fogg of the Stanford Behavior Design Lab, finds that three elements must happen at the same moment for a behavior to occur – motivation, ability, and trigger.  Dr. Fogg’s theory is that if you do something you don’t enjoy, to make it a habit, and then fail that it is actually more detrimental to your overall goal than doing nothing at all. For real change to occur, one must rewire the brain to succeed at small changes which creates success and further changes – a snowball effect, if you will.  When looking at making changes – including those infamous New Year’s resolutions – those changes should be easy and fit seamlessly into your existing routine – becoming almost automatic – to create real change.


Why not take a fresh look at those New Year’s resolutions and see how you might break down those goals into microsteps?    Starting with motivation, which is the first step, we must look at how to get ourselves motivated in the first place.  Doing a small task that is easily achievable sets the stage for motivation and ultimately for success.   If you want to get more steps in your day, or even eventually start on a more focused effort to walk for fitness, designate a time each evening to put your comfy walking shoes where you will see them.  Seeing those shoes will eventually lead to you putting them on. Which may lead to a walk around the block. Which may lead to a full-fledged 30 minute walk several times a week.  See the thought process here?    Take one of your resolutions and really analyze it, breaking it down into micro-steps and you may just avoid “Quitters Day” altogether!





European Journal of Social Psychology,2009.



Feature image from www.pexels.com, courtesy of Lewis Burrows.


Cindy Chafin
Cindy Chafin, M.Ed., MCHES® serves as editor-in-chief of Unconditionally Her. Through her many years as a masters-level certified health educator and 18-year employment in a higher education setting – as well as several years as a graduate and doctoral student – she has written countless articles, essays, publications, grant applications, proposals, reports, and other technical and creative writing documents. In addition to her training and professional work experience, she spent four years as volunteer editor of New Focus Daily, a publication of the Women Survivors Alliance, a national women cancer survivors-focused organization based in Nashville, Tennessee.
While serving as editor of Unconditionally Her, a women-focused magazine which provides content on anything from recipes, travel, books, and everything in between, she has a special interest in fitness, health, and well-being. She is certified by the National Commission on Health Education Credentialing (NCHEC) and was part of the first cohort to receive master's level designation. NCHEC certifies health education specialists, promotes professional development, and strengthens professional preparation and practice. She is proud to be a CHES® and has been a public health professional for many years after receiving her graduate degree in health promotion and education from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. She was a personal trainer and group fitness instructor for many years and looks forward to re-engaging with women one-on-one as a health coach pending completion of her certification and doctoral degree to supplement her public health and academic work.

She currently is the Associate Director for Community Programs for the Center for Health and Human Services at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, located just outside of Nashville, where she has been a project director of multiple grants since 2002 and served as interim director from 2015-2018. Cindy offers her consulting services and volunteer hours under the umbrella of Community Health Collaboratives, LLC which she founded in 2002 for organizations such as Unconditionally Her and other non-profit and charity organizations. She is pleased to promote empowerment and confidence of women readers across the globe, and to provide inspiration, motivation, and voice for social change through her role as editor-in-chief of Unconditionally Her.