The New Year is a great time to have a fresh start – the indulgences of Christmas are out of the way and we can leave the transgressions of the previous year in the past where they belong. Motivation to change is at an all-time high! We can do this!
But, let’s face it, improving is hard work. The motivation dwindles with each passing day until there’s none of it left and we fall back into our old habits. In fact, most of us don’t even seem to last a month – with ‘Fail Friday’ at the end of January marking the day when we’re most likely to quit.
However, what if this time was different? What if, next year, we didn’t have to make the same resolution we’d had for the past 10 years because we’d actually cracked it? It can be done, and here are 12 tips to help you get there. Because we can do this!
1) Be specific
Break down your resolution into a smaller, bite-sized chunk. ‘Go to the gym’ is a great resolution, but is also vague. Don’t just say what you’re going to do, but how you’re going to do it. How about ‘Go to the gym at least twice a week’. Or, instead of ‘Eat more fruit and veg’, try ‘Have one vegetarian day a week’ or ‘Have veg with every meal’. Not just ‘Lose weight’ – set a target for how much each week.
2) Be realistic
At New Year, we seem to believe we can do anything, so let’s reign it in a little. You’re not going to go to the gym every day so don’t say you will and set yourself up for failure. Set a minimum that you know you can achieve.
3) Write them down
Write your resolution out as a reminder to yourself of the pact you’re making. But take this a step further too. It’ll depend on the resolution you set but, if you can, put in your diary when you’re going to do the resolution. Decide that you’ll go to the gym every Monday and Wednesday and schedule this in as an appointment with yourself, and keep it as you would any other appointment. No excuses.
4) Don’t wait until New Year
Many of us decide at New Year that it’s time to change, and then try to do it all at once. Don’t. Focus on one thing at a time. Prioritise and choose something that really is important to you. When you’ve got that one sorted, move on to your next goal for self-improvement. Resolutions can be set at any time of year.
5) Get a buddy
Everything’s easier with two. See if a friend wants to do the same resolution, and support and motivate each other. You’ll be in it together.
6) Have accountability
You’re buddy can be part of this too, but have someone that you can admit your failures to, and make sure that if (when) they occur you do admit them. Don’t pick someone who will laugh off the fact that you just ate an entire tub of Ben and Jerry’s. If you’re serious about changing, take it seriously. Have someone who will encourage you and tell you what a great job you’ve been doing and help you get back on track. You can do this!
7) Tell friends and family
To help you avoid temptation or miss appointments with yourself (see point 3), tell the people close to you what you want to do, why it’s important to you, and ask for their support, encouragement and understanding. For example, if you’re trying to lose weight they’ll know not to suggest getting a take-away pizza.
8) When temptation strikes, wait
You really want that chocolate, don’t you? But remember that you also want to keep your resolution. So wait 10 minutes before giving in. Temptations pass.
9) The 60-day rule
Ever heard the saying ‘It takes 60 days to make a habit, and 60 days to break it’? The first couple of months are the most important and most difficult. It might seem like you’re wading through mud at times, but remember what’s at the other side of it and that every day gets you closer to your goal.
10) Appreciate your achievements
Admitting that you want to improve an aspect of your life is a great start. Committing to doing it even better. And every day you stick to it is a real achievement. So be proud of yourself!
11) Slips will happen – pick yourself up
Don’t think that one slip equals failure. It doesn’t. Pick yourself up, grab your resolve and keep on walking one step at a time.
12) Put sleep at the top of the list
It’s easier to keep resolutions when you’ve had a good night’s sleep, so maybe this should be everyone’s number-one resolution. Whether you need to get into a routine, give up coffee after lunchtime or simply get a new pillow, think of this as you setting up the goalposts a little wider apart so that you’re less likely to miss.
Good luck with your resolutions – let me know how you get on. And when that little voice tells you that you can’t do it anymore, shout back at it that you can and you will. Always remember, a resolution is for life, not just for New Year.