5 Ways To Transition A Goal Into A Habit

January is a month of new beginnings. The world (and Instagram) is wide-eyed with new goals and inspirational quotes and while I’m definitely on the #newyeargoals team, I’m not always so onboard for the idea of “new year, new me.”

Instead of dismissing the person I was last year, I try to grow as much as possible from my successes and failures of the past year and try to be better, instead of being new. And so while I’ve made new 2019 goals, I’ve also made a plan to transition my 2018 goals and integrate them into my life as habits.

So they are no longer goals, they are just a part of my daily life. I think that while the excitement of new goals can be so enticing, it’s also important to be mindful of not just tossing out the old goals – whether they were successful or not. When I went through my 2018 goals re-cap and graded myself and how well I did, my results were actually pretty mediocre. I didn’t “crush” these goals but I was successful in some areas and want to continue to work towards them with the lessons I’ve learned.

I think that’s the underlying problem with creating New Year goals/resolutions. So many people (myself included) make resolutions one year, don’t succeed, and then just start at square one again with new resolutions the following year. Instead of throwing out my old goals, or even forgetting about them, I’m transitioning them to the backburner so that I can still work on them, but they in the background as I have new goals for 2019.

So for this post, I will be sharing how I am transitioning my 2018 goals into 2019 habits and incorporating them into my daily life. As a refresher, I’ve fully explained my 2018 goals in a previous post, so if you haven’t checked it out and need some context, I’ll meet you back here in a bit.

Okay, let’s get started!


1. Defining Your Why

This is the most important thing you have to do to transition a new year’s goal into a habit and it has to be the first thing you do.

According to one statistic – 80% of New Year resolutions fail by the 2nd week of February. So in order to push yourself past the 2nd week of February and beyond you have to clearly clarify why this goal is or remains important to you.

According to a study, the two most common goals that people have are healthy lifestyle goals and financial goals such as getting out of debt. However, both goals require a longer commitment and really a lifestyle change rather than a one year attempt.  Just because 2018 is over doesn’t mean you should go back to eating junk food or malicious spending habits. The point of a goal isn’t really just to pay off a certain amount of debt, it’s to learn the spending habits that will get you out of debt so you will also never go back. Defining your why is the most important tool in goal setting because  it will be what keeps you going.

As yourself: Why is it truly important to have this goal become a habit or lifestyle change? Is it for your health? Your overall financial situation?

Take some time and really think about why this goal is important to you.


My 2018 Goal: Start Investing

For me, my goal of learning to invest was really important to me because it forced me to expand my financial knowledge and really forced me out of my comfort zone. And you know what I learned by entering the stock market? Wow, I suck at picking and monitoring stocks.

However, throughout the whole year, I learned a lot about the financial stock market world that I truly wasn’t aware of before. I learned how things can affect the stock market, the responsibilities of public companies and the risk that is involved in these transactions. So I’m going to continue to invest this year, and in the coming years, but I’ve learned that for the type of person I am (low-risk); I’m going to transition my stocks out of the market and into ETFs and GICs. Learning about investment options not only forced me to learn about stocks but about other options as well.

And while I’m still in a loss in the market, I learned a lot about investments at 27. And I’m continuing to use my knowledge to make more (and hopefully) smarter investments this year and the following years. So while there may have been ups and downs financially for my investments last year, I’m glad I’m learning all of these lessons when I’m 27 (and can afford to take a hit here and there), than when I’m 40 and may have a family where my decisions impact more than myself.


2. Create A Reward

According to one study done by the University of Chicago, people are more likely to achieve long-term and short term goals when they have a defined reward – which can be as simple as just the enjoyment of it of the goal.

If eating healthy will make you miserable, you won’t want to continue doing it. But if you see the benefits of healthy eating – long term in your health and short term in your energy levels, you will continue to want to pursue it. No matter how small or big – create a short-term or long-term reward for your goal.

My 2018 Goal: Make More Time For Self Care

This goal was pretty vague because I hadn’t defined what self-care was for myself, but I quickly found throughout the year that what made me feel good and most happy when I need to recharge is to cook. And so I’ve invested more into buying good ingredients, trying new recipes and really taking care of myself. My reward has been really, really good food. Instead of lunch just being a “meh” part of my day, I’ve now made it my reward by eating really gourmet, homemade lunches in comparison to the fast food or oily cafeteria meals I would be eating if I didn’t bring my lunch. Taking care of myself and feeling good about myself is my reward to keep going.


3. Find Strategies That Work For You

I think that one of the best parts of goal setting is that you push yourself to learn and explore new things. Depending on the goal, there are usually a lot of ways to approach it and transitioning a goal means looking at different strategies. If one approach isn’t working, try researching and other strategies in order to reach your goal. It could surprise you!

My 2018 Example: Less Plastic

When I first started this goal of using less plastic, my intent was actually only to use less plastic bags. But the more I researched into plastic, the more alternatives I found for other plastic goods. In 2018, Vancouver also announced that it will be soon putting a ban on plastic straws and that also motivated me to buy metal and paper straws. Although these are small changes, it’s sparked a change in me to constantly be looking out for ways to cut plastic. I’m now looking into buying mesh produce bags and beeswax paper. While I’m not completely going plastic-free just yet, it’s a step in the right direction. So if you’re looking into transitioning a goal, look into alternative strategies and how it can work for you.


4. Pivot If You Have To

Here’s a secret to goal-setting that I’ve come to learn throughout the years: the goal you write down is not set in stone. Just because you wrote a goal down once, does not mean you are confined to it forever it no longer works for you and the person you want to become. So go back to Step 1 and if pivot your goal if your why isn’t enough for you anymore.

My 2018 Goal: Start a Side Hustle

Starting a side hustle in 2018 was my goal to find different ways of making money beyond getting another job. I’ve had 2-3 jobs at a time before (and one of them was full-time) and it usually left me exhausted and resentful because I wouldn’t be able to spend time with my friends and family. Or if I did, I would not be at my best. So I made a goal to start a side hustle. And while I did find a way to make money online captioning videos, it didn’t look that way at the beginning. When I made that goal, I thought it would be to start a business. I had lots of ideas. I didn’t really follow through on some of them and the ones I did follow through on didn’t work.



Maybe something I will share another day, but when I started, I thought I would have a business by the end of the year. However, I stumbled upon the side hustle of captioning videos and another secret side hustle that I’ve shared with my email subscribers, but this was all a bit of a journey. And now, in 2019, I still want to continue my side hustle but I want to the lessons that I learned last year and adjust the goal a bit. The business idea I originally had didn’t work. So I’m working on a new one! And although it wasn’t exactly the road I planned, it’s getting there. This probably all sounds very vague but if I went into the details, this post would be a mile long. Since my original idea didn’t work, I’m pivoting a little, but I know my why so however I get there, I’ll figure it out.

I’ll keep you posted on how it goes!


5. Incorporate It Into Daily Life

Habits are things we do, well out of habit. And to fully have a goal become a habit, it has to be incorporated into your daily life. You don’t have to incorporate every goal into your daily life, but the goals that you are serious about, need to be incorporated into your daily life. Find different ways to incorporate them, whether it’s your mindset, your morning routine, or your lifestyle. As stated earlier, find the strategies that work for you, and then place them in your life so it’s no longer an option.

My 2018 Goal: French Fluency

For 2019, I wanted to focus on learning (beginner levels) of a couple other languages but French will always be something I am constantly working on. It’s kind of my forever goal because I don’t think I will ever be as fluent as I want. Heck, I still mess up in English and Vietnamese which are the languages I am fluent in. But last year, when I really tried to focus on French, I explored a lot of different options on how I could learn it beyond a textbook. So while this year, my time will be spent less behind a textbook, I will be incorporating it into my daily life. If you read my 2019 goals post, you’ll know that this year I will be starting a gratitude journal and I’ve actually decided to write the whole thing in French. It’s not perfect of course, and it’s only a tiny bit every day, but I am working towards it, every day. And especially with a language, that’s the most important part of achieving the goal is to practice it a bit every day. Unlike some goals that once they are achieved, they are done, learning a language takes time and practice. Even if I were to learn it all perfectly tomorrow, if I didn’t practice it daily, I will 100% promise you I will forget it. I’ve also got in the habit of watching Netflix in French (only the shows where I know the plotline well though – so mostly Gilmore Girl reruns.



Whatever your journey, I hope that you don’t toss out goals and start on a new slate every year. I personally find that exhausting and even though I wasn’t perfect in achieving my goals last year; it doesn’t mean I’m going to stop. Transitioning my goals into habits has challenging. I’m not perfect, but it’s also been really fun. Because I get to feel like I’m growing every single day. And this post has probably come off as one of my more rambly articles but the point I’m trying to make is this:

Having the skill to follow through with your goals is as important as learning to study in high school.

You know how in high school, we learned all of these subjects and topics that ended up contributing little or no value to our lives as adults? Like math, science, and history beyond the basics? Well as I’ve grown up, I’ve learned that learning the details of those topics was not the point of high school.

The point of high school and college and education are actually (for me anyways) learning the skill of studying and learning. And these are the skills I take now as an adult. With the unlimited possibility of the internet, anyone can actually basically learn anything – most times for free. However, not everyone has the skill to follow through with learning and to keep going. I truly believe learning and studying is a skill. In high school, a lot of people could get by without it, but then as I learned in university and beyond, people who don’t try, never reach their full potential because they are limited by their natural abilities. No matter who you are, how much you accomplish, or how well off you are, everyone can do better. And I think the most successful people know that as well because they are also constantly learning different things.

So that was the point of this post. Transitioning your goals into habits is so important because it’s not even the habit that’s the focus, it’s who you become and learning how to follow through with goals no matter what, that will make the biggest impact when facing all the adult life obstacles to come.

To adulting,

Kimberly ✨


Author: Kimberly

Hi there! My name is Kimberly and I created MLA as a personal development, career, and finance resource for millennials. MLA focuses on helping career-driven millennials create the personal development habits to achieve work-life balance and manage their money. Throughout this blog, you’ll find articles that give specific and detailed advice because I’m not into the fluffy advice. There’s plenty of that on the internet. Here you will find tangible advice on how to find a rewarding career (that you love!), where you can help others, and learn how to save and invest your money for the future. I hope you’ll follow along!

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