This January, Thrive is celebrating Microstep Month. Instead of setting overly ambitious New Year’s resolutions that make you feel bad when you can’t accomplish them, we want to help you revolutionize your approach to resolutions with Microsteps, Thrive’s science-backed, too-small-to-fail mini habits that you can easily integrate into your life right away.

Research shows that nearly half of New Year’s resolutions fizzle before February. To make sure that doesn’t happen to you, we invite you to join us this month in selecting an easily achievable (totally free!) Microstep that is proven to help you meaningfully form new habits.

We challenged Thrive staffers to test a Microstep for 32 days and write about their progress. The result? Some very honest and encouraging Microstep Diaries, like this one.

Thrive staffer: Alisa Peters, Lead Backend Engineer

Microstep: Write down a list of what you’re grateful for before bed.

Why I chose it

As a fairly new mom (my daughter is 14 months), a full-time software engineering manager at a startup, and having moved into a new house in the last year, the list of things that need doing is just endless. I constantly wake up in the middle of the night going through various to-do lists, even though I have everything that needs doing already written down. My hope was that by wrapping up the day with looking at everything I already have, which is a lot, I would enter sleep more focused on what I’ve done and what I have rather than worrying about what I don’t have and what needs doing.

A wind-down routine

I landed at about 75 percent completion. There was a string of five days where I was sleeping out of my bedroom because my husband had a stomach bug (quarantined for sure), and my journal never made it out of my bedroom. However, I did go through and mentally list things that I was grateful for before going to sleep. It didn’t quite have the same effect, but it was better than not doing it at all, I think! I do feel overall that it helped me wind down at the end of the night. My routine became plug in my phone, write down the things I was grateful for that day, and read some of my book.

From routine to habit

I consider this a very successful endeavor, and definitely intend to keep going. It’s not a habit yet, but I feel like I’ve been getting more specific when I write down the things that I’m grateful for, and in addition to the benefits I feel it is giving me in getting to sleep at night — and staying asleep — the journal could be a fun read in a year or two!

Three tips for your own Microstep journey

  1. Don’t give up; even if you miss several days, just jump back on whenever you can. Or find shortcuts to doing the microstep even if you can’t do the full thing, like giving mental gratitude when you find yourself already tucked in bed and unwilling to take your arms out of the covers to write it down in your gratitude journal.
  2. Find ways to make it easier for your journal to be top of mind. I had much more success on days where I would place the journal and pencil on my pillow in the morning, or at least on top of my night stand stack. Because my book would always wind up on top of the stack, sometimes I’d forget the journal was there, but if I rearranged things in the morning, it better set me up that evening to remember to log my gratitude.
  3. Specific to this particular microstep: Write it down, even if you can only muster one thing or one word. I felt best when I had at least three items, and better still when they were really concrete and specific. The more specific, the more meaning I felt it had. For example, “I’m grateful for my wonderful spouse,” versus “I’m grateful for my wonderful spouse who did all the dishes and handled dinner time with our 1-year-old so I could go to an event after work.”

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More Microstep Month Diaries:

I Was Staying Late at the Office Every Night. Here’s How I Put an End to It.

I Made One Meeting Each Day a Walking Meeting for 32 Days and Here’s What Happened

I Put My Phone Away Before Bed For a Month and Here’s What Happened

Arianna Huffington: Give Your New Year’s Resolutions a Boost by Joining Us For Microstep Month