It’s almost time again. After Christmas, it’s the thing on everyone’s (well, most people’s) minds. New Year’s. And, more specifically, the dreaded New Year’s resolutions. Every year the population at large pledges itself to resolutions and goals that, for the vast majority, end up falling by the wayside.
But why does this happen? We make our resolutions because we want to change or improve aspects of our lives. So why are we letting them fall away so easily? Well, there are a lot of reasons why resolutions are so commonly seen to fail. But here, you’ll learn several easy tricks to help your resolution stick.
One of the biggest obstacles in committing to your resolution is thinking of one in the first place.
So how do we tackle this?
#1 Find something specific to you
We all know the generic resolutions, the ones people say every year. ‘I’m going to eat healthier!’
And if that genuinely is your goal, then great! But let’s think more specifically. How are you going to eat healthier? Is it through avoiding or limiting snacking? Or maybe you want to cook more balanced meals. Having goals like this, rather than keeping it vague, will make you more likely to stick to those goals.
#2 Take time to reflect on your year
Looking back on your year can help you to decide what you want to do differently next year. It can be a good idea to list 3 things you’re happy about, and 3 things you wished you’d done differently. They don’t have to be big things, maybe you’re happy about that one beach trip with your family, or those few times you cooked really nice meals. It could be you wished you hadn’t turned down a job offer, or passed up that really nice pair of shoes in the sale.
While thinking about this, also think about what you could be doing to keep the good, and change the not-so-good. Maybe spend time with your family more, or cook a meal once a week and try new recipes. Or maybe you could consider accepting more opportunities. Use your past year as an influence for the next.
#3 Find your 'Why'
This goes hand in hand with reflecting. This reason will be what keeps you motivated on days where all you want to do is stay under the covers.
So, why do you want to do this?
It could be for health reasons, maybe you want to feel better in yourself, or you want to make sure you can be around for your family for years to come. Or maybe you want to make things better for your family too, and that could be where taking opportunities comes in. Whatever your reason (or reasons) may be, they should motivate and inspire you to keep going.
Now for the doing the resolution part...
When you begin working towards your goal, it can seem daunting. You might be thinking How will I ever get to where I want to be? But try not to stress! Rome wasn’t built in a day, and this is a goal you want to achieve by the end of the year.
So what can we do to make your resolution seem more manageable?
#4 Break your goal down
Let’s start by splitting up your big goal into smaller, more achievable, chunks. Start with small steps. If you want to eat less meat, maybe have a day where you don’t eat meat, or even one meal.
The same goes for exercise, maybe go to the gym one day a week, or once every two weeks. Make sure it’s specific! Set both a day and a time, it will make you more likely to follow through with your task.
#5 Establish a routine
The best way to success and achieving your goals is to incorporate them as part of a regular weekly routine. Establishing them as a habit and a normal part of your day makes it easier to motivate yourself. Think about getting up for work, it’s hard sometimes, but it’s fundamentally a part of your week, so you do it. If you approach your goal in the same way, ‘Mondays are gym days’ or ‘these nights I won’t have any sweets and cook a healthy meal’, motivation becomes much easier. It also helps you to remember to do them in the first place!
Once your routine is set, you’ve got yourself a good foundation to work towards your next goal.
#6 Find your compromises
Everyone has things that they sometimes just need to make it through the day. If your goal means changing your lifestyle, it might mean these need changing, too. But like I said, sometimes you just need something to make the day a little easier. Maybe you’re trying to cut down on sweets, but you usually have a coffee with sugar and today is proving exceptionally hard to go without. This is where you could make a compromise. Have some sugar in your coffee. But also try to avoid having more sweet things that day. Allow yourself some room for ‘luxuries’. Or, even better, try finding a healthier alternative. You could try using artificial sweeteners instead, which have been approved by the nhs as a suitable substitute for sugar.
#7 Don’t have fear of failure
Like with making compromises, you can’t be perfect all the time. Making mistakes and messing up is a natural part of life. The more important thing is how we deal with them. It can be easy to let a small mistake evolve into an ever-growing downwards spiral.
I’ve already put sugar in my coffee, so what harm will a few biscuits do? I had so much cake yesterday, I might as well just stop trying and have some today too. Sound familiar?
It’s okay to slip up every once in a while, and it doesn’t mean your effort so far has been wasted. Don’t use one mistake as an excuse to give up. Instead, try to think more positively.
I had a lot of sweets yesterday, so I’ll try and swap sweets for fruit today. I forgot to go to the gym yesterday, so I’ll make time on [this day] instead.
Approaching things constructively will help you have a better perspective on your goals and achievements, as well as in life generally!
#8 Tell people
We’ve all been there. Telling people about your plans can feel embarrassing, especially at the prospect of not succeeding. But you could consider that this pressure is also a good thing; having people knowing your goals could actually motivate you to keep trying. As well as this, friends and family can provide you with support. Bad days won’t feel so bad if you have people you can rely on. And that’s not just when you’re working towards a goal.
#9 Reward the good, accept the bad
When you meet one of your goals, even a small one, you should celebrate and give yourself a little reward. Doing this puts you in a positive mindset for success. Of course, you need to be sensible. Giving yourself a massive reward for something small might send you straight back to where you started. And sometimes, maybe you won’t do so well. It’s important to understand that this is a natural part of working towards a goal, people can’t be perfect all the time.