Happy new year! January, the head of the year, is a traditional time to make resolutions. But how do good intentions get lost by the wayside? It’s a well-known fact that gym memberships soar in January only to tail off by March. Are resolutions worth making? And, if so, how can we help ourselves keep them? Here are our seven tips for a resolute 2015…
- Do make resolutions. Our brains don’t work in a linear way, so defining our goals gives them shape and form. Research has found that people who write down their goals achieve them more effectively than those who keep them in their head.
- Time travel. Write a note to yourself in the present tense about how it might feel to have kept your resolution for a year, for instance: “I’ve been walking to work for a year, I feel fitter and have more energy.” Put the note somewhere you’ll see it, and picture this future you. Sports people use visualisation techniques to get themselves in a winning frame of mind. So, why not visualise yourself jogging down the street, or practising yoga before work?
- Focus on the positive. It is better to look at the positive benefits of your resolution rather than the deprivation effect. So, rather than focus on what you are giving up, focus on what you will gain. Saying no to something often makes us crave it more, so instead of saying:“I’ll never snack on biscuits”, say “I am enjoying healthy snacks, and sometimes biscuits, too”.
- Be realistic. Setting realistic goals will give you a sense of achievement, while unrealistic goals will leave you feeling like you’ve failed – even if you’ve made great progress. Instead of saying “I’ll go jogging three times a week”, try saying: “I’m jogging once a week, and any more than that is a bonus”.
- Expect to backslide. Making a change to lifelong behaviour is not going to happen overnight. It may take several tries, as well as finding new approaches if the ones you are using are not working. Relapse is natural. The most important thing is to use it as an information-gathering exercise. Ask: what was the trigger for this setback, and what can I learn from it?
- Be kind to yourself (Part I). Talk to yourself as if you are a kind adult speaking to a small child. If resolutions slip, don’t say “You’re useless”; “This proves you can’t change”; or “You might as well give up now”. If your resolution slips, just pick it up again, all the while saying something encouraging to yourself. Come on, you are only human!
- Be kind to yourself (Part II). Taking care of ourselves can come low on our priorities when life is full of looking after others. But taking time out helps make responsibilities more manageable. Do new year resolutions always have to be punishing? What about resolving to do something you actually like doing? As a friend said: “The most successful new year resolution I ever made was: ‘I am having more saunas’.”
We’d love to hear about your inspiring goals and resolutions for 2015 so do leave us a comment. Happy 2015 everyone!