The first week of January comes with a slew of ambitious goal-setting, resolution-planning, and wishful thinking. Beyoncé and Jay-Z also made a successful big change recently — shifting to a plant-based diet — but they did it by starting with one small change, rather than by setting overly ambitious goals and completely transforming their every meal all at once.
The celebrity couple recently wrote an introduction to Beyoncé’s trainer Marco Borges’ cookbook, The Greenprint, explaining how they started adopting a plant-based diet. Borges says the couple began to embrace plant-based eating not by radically transforming their diet, but by simply starting with breakfast, at his suggestion. “They loved it,” Borges told People. “Then I suggested we also do it for lunch, and they loved that idea as well.”
Setting goals can be exciting, but the daunting nature of a big resolution is why most fizzle by the time February rolls around. Instead, science backs the idea of making too-small-to-fail mini changes that you can easily integrate into your life right away. At Thrive, we call those Microsteps. And clearly, Beyoncé and Jay-Z grasp their value, too.
“If we stretch ourselves too thin, we may end up compromising our ability to focus on any given task effectively,” Tim Bono, Ph.D., a psychology professor at Washington University in St. Louis, tells Thrive. “For many people, the challenge isn’t so much about which goals they want to set for themselves, as much as it is how they are going to keep up with them.”
While Beyoncé and Jay-Z have inspired many people to set healthy goals for the new year, it’s important to remember that they found success by starting small, and being realistic.
If you’re looking to set an attainable goal this year and stay consistent, here’s where to start:
“Maintaining balance in our lives is a bit like maintaining our devices,” Bono explains. “If we have too many apps open on our phone, the device will eventually slow down or crash.” Instead of setting a large goal that has many facets, Bono suggests starting slow — just like Jay-Z and Beyoncé did — and measuring your progress as you go. By maintaining a sense of balance in your actions, you’ll be more likely to stick to your plan.
The key to setting a goal that you can stick to is all about identifying something that is small, practical, and specific. Just like Beyoncé and Jay-Z started with one plant-based breakfast (still eating however they wanted for other meals), begin your plan by picking a specific, easy action that you can do right away. Whether you’re choosing to tidy up your room before bed or journal for a few minutes to wind down, it’s important to start small. And if you feel that you’re losing sight of the big picture, don’t be afraid to reassess, Bono says. “It’s okay to scale back.”
Be OK with saying no
It’s important to remember that the most attainable goals are often the most simple, so don’t overwhelm yourself by committing to every habit that comes your way. By focusing on one goal at a time, you can find joy in your small wins, and feel good about saying no every now and then. “Part of psychological health involves knowing your limits and understanding the importance of balance in your life,” Bono says. “Sometimes maintaining this balance involves saying no to things.”
Write it down
An important part of holding yourself accountable is writing down your results — the good, the bad, the minor slip-ups, and the celebratory moments. (Our Thrive team is even sharing our own microstep diaries, in case you need some it’s-okay-to-fail-sometimes inspo!) Most importantly, remember not to stress over the minor slips. “Stress can interfere with our ability to make well-reasoned judgments and decisions,” Bono says. Keep track of your progress, but don’t be afraid to make a change if things aren’t working so far.