New Year’s Resolutions – I’m not preaching that you have to have them, just trying to help you achieve them if you decide to make them.
New Year’s Resolutions are OK in theory, but in reality are rarely stuck to. This is because often we set ourselves unrealistic targets.
If the only targets we set are the end goal, they may seem unachievable; the key is to set a lower target which in turn will lead to the end goal. For instance, if the end goal is to lose say 3 stone in weight, set the target at 1 stone, or 1 pound a week. This is not so daunting, so is more achievable. When the first stone/pound is lost, celebrate! Let yourself acknowledge that you have achieved something – the brain releases dopamine (the so called “happy hormone”) at these small milestones. Then set another target of another stone; by this time you will be in the habit of eating better and exercising more often, so by keeping this up the second stone is, again, achievable. Once this target is reached, the 3rd stone is in sight and not so daunting, and as it is the end goal of where you want to be, your willpower, renewed enthusiasm and energy levels should encourage you to get there. It is important to measure your progress and with losing weight this is fairly easy to monitor.
I’m not saying it will be easy, or that you won’t falter, but look at it as a lifestyle change. You need to keep up an exercise regime and change your relationship with food, otherwise if you go back to the way you lived before January 1st, you will put the weight back on. And there are many people better qualified than me to advise you on nutrition and exercise, but I’m just trying to look at it from a simple viewpoint. Break the task down into manageable bite size chunks (no pun intended) and take it a step at a time.
If you can begin your task with a friend, chances are you are more likely to succeed, by encouraging each other. Research by Leeds University found this to be the case.
When we’re at work, or involved with something that requires concentration, we can forget to drink that glass of water, or to get up and stretch, so think about setting an alarm to remind you to take a screen break, have a drink and stretch your legs. These small things can help you to stay on track.
These principles can be applied to many resolutions. If you’re trying to quit smoking, from what I’m told it’s a bit easier to cut down gradually, so set a target to smoke less than you are for a while, then a bit less and so on. I’ve never smoked, so I’m not the best person to advise on this but I would say don’t be afraid to ask for help. There’s plenty out there so accept all the help you can.
It may be easier than you think
It may not be as hard as you think to reach your goals; I think that once you’ve made your mind up and are prepared to give it a go, and you’ve set some smaller achievable goals, you’ll see some encouraging signs and results. And little victories add up in the end.
A couple of years ago I decided to give Dry January a go. Not really for any reason other than to prove to myself that I could go a month without a drink. I wasn’t drinking excessively but I just wondered if I could do it.
Once I’d made my mind up it wasn’t that difficult. I didn’t find myself feeling deprived or that I was missing something, I got out of the habit of having an alcoholic drink with dinner, got used to water quite easily. And when it came to the end of the month, I didn’t rush to open a bottle of wine, in fact it was 3 or 4 days before I had a glass, and even then I realised I hadn’t missed it that much. So it may be the same for you, give it a go, you may be surprised.
There’s no time like the present
There’s nothing magical about 1st January, it’s just a traditional time to begin a new lifestyle. If you don’t start on the first day of the year, just remember there’s another 364 just like it. They’re all the same, giving you the same opportunity to “change your life”. If you begin on the 1st January and “fail” a week later, that needn’t be the end of it. The opportunity is still there, so start again. Figure out why you “failed”, and if you think the target was unrealistic then change the target and give it another go. Surely it’s better to try again than to give up and carry on as you always have. There’s no logical reason to think “I’ll start next week”, why not start now?
Look for help
Do your research – whether it’s losing weight, giving up smoking, exercising more – find out which method of your chosen change will suit you. If you’re armed with more information, you’ll understand why you’ve failed in the past and how you can succeed this time.
This may sound ironic but my resolution is to write my blogs in plenty of time rather than the day before they’re due. I’m writing this one a bit late but as I’ve just said, it’s never too late to change your habits. I’m going to diarise the time to write each blog on a regular day and by setting the time aside to do them, I’m hoping that it will become habit forming in a good way. Your resolution should become part of your routine too so make time for it until it becomes natural to you.
New Year’s Resolutions can be about anything, but by making them achievable you should enjoy some degree of success.
I’ll let you know how my resolution goes, I’d be interested how you get on with yours.
Happy New Year!