Without wanting to sound too cynical it can be a classic failure opportunity when we make New Year’s resolutions, particularly when they are made off-the-cuff or when we are feeling our guiltiest, having just over-indulged on Christmas day. But resolutions can work, with a little careful planning and the right mindset.
1. Start your year off with a healthy getaway. This is in order to give you inspiration and to put you in a positive frame of mind. A holiday will give you the headspace to think carefully about your resolution/s and how you’re going to implement the suggestions below. It will also kick start your year off with a detox having really reveled and let your hair down in the Christmas and NYE frivolities.
2. Make one change at a time. If you make a long list of resolutions you’re going to find it hard to make these changes all at the same time and you might end up perhaps achieving half of one of them. This will lead to demotivation which seems to hover around the phrase ‘New Years’ Resolutions’. Instead choose one main aim, and consider all the different sub strategies for how you’re going to achieve this goal.
3. Make your resolution attainable. You’ve got to know that what you’re aiming for is something that is actually achievable in your own lifestyle! Don’t set yourself up for failure by aiming for the impossible, perhaps show one of your friends your goal and ask them if they think it’s possible (but make sure you ask a friend who will give you an honest answer!)
4. Break it up. Our self-control is finite, and therefore just stating ‘lose 10 pounds’ is not actually as specific as you think. Instead try ‘go to the gym 3 times a week, take the stairs each morning and introduce 2 healthy lunches per week’, this will break up the scary looking target and will give you that sense of achievement when you can tick each one off the list weekly (and the pounds will drop off without even noticing! Hooray!)
5. Give yourself a congratulatory moment. It can sometimes be dismaying if you’re looking to ‘lose that baby weight’ etc., so take 5 minutes out to write a list of all the things that you have done that required huge amounts of self disciple that are separate from your actual resolution, a list of things you’re proud of; ‘I chose an apple instead of crisps this afternoon’ or ‘put the money that I would have spent on new golf clubs into savings’- you get the gist. Write as many little (and big) achievements so that you can visually see your accomplishments – this can give you much more confidence in your own will power.
6. Use your senses. Put a photo of a skinnier you on the fridge or a photo of your next holiday location, to inspire you to snack healthily, if at all. This is because the primitive cravings center in our brain is highly receptive to visual cues, so draw on the strength of images to help you – put science on your side!
7. Make your resolution time specific. When making a resolution, give yourself an end goal by which it must be achieved. I.e. rather than ‘spend more time with my children’ state ‘My children and I will have had 5 days out together by March’. You can even make ‘board meetings’ with yourself at timely intervals to check on progress; if your goal is over the whole year, spread them out and put them in your calendar, and at each meeting consider if you’re on track to the end goal.
8. Find people to be your accountability team. People who will tell you’re doing a good job and encourage you- we all need cheerleaders in life, particularly if the aim is one that will be challenging. Give them your resolution, the dates by which you are going to complete it, and how best to encourage you.
9. Write out your goals. This may sound simple but studies have shown when people write out what they want to achieve rather than just a mental commitment they are more likely to stick to them. Put the goal somewhere you will continually see it to help remind yourself what you want to achieve.
10. Celebrate the little steps. As you continue on this journey towards the end result take time out to say ‘well done’; if your aim is to ‘leave the office on time, three days a week until my birthday in May’ and you’ve already completed January successfully, take that otherwise lost hour or two and do something completely new and different – book a class in making sushi or buy yourself an item that reminds you of how good you felt when you achieved a month of your resolution. These small steps being celebrated will encourage and affirm you as you push on through!