How to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Work!
While it is tempting to dwell on the latest lockdown announcement (our view is to look through the lockdown, and to look forward to a time not too far away from now when pent up demand will see all parts of the economy bounce back strongly later this year) instead we thought we would discuss another perennial favourite – the New Year’s resolution!
Whether it’s in our professional or personal life, we need to set ourselves up for success and to find a way to make positive changes that last for the long term, not just for January. The one thing we all know from personal experience is that the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions last until mid / end January and then get to put to one side only to be regurgitated 11 months later. No wonder they are called “New Year’s” resolutions when they seem to only last for the New Year!
Here’s our take on what not to do, and how to turn it around with five things to think about when setting your resolutions:
Are they unrealistic?
If you haven’t been for a run for the last few months, is it realistic to expect yourself to now run four times a week? Setting yourself realistic targets will ensure you feel that sense of achievement when you do stick to your goals.
Are you setting yourself up to fail?
So you run four times in the first week but you pick up a niggle because your body’s not used to the sudden jump in activity. The next week you go twice, the following week twice again. You look at your efforts and are disappointed as it confirms to yourself what you already knew deep down – you were never going to keep up four runs per week for the whole year. Take it easy on yourself and give yourself a pat on the back for still running at all!
But it’s all over too soon.. One of your resolutions is to lose 5kg which you achieve by the end of January, mostly by changing just about everything in your diet. You made it! But is this sustainable? If not then it won’t be long before you go back to your old habits.
Do you have a plan?
So you’re going to “eat more healthily”, but how exactly? Have you bought a book to read to educate yourself on how to achieve your goal? Have you worked out which shop to buy the food from? It may be more expensive – have you budgeted for that? Do you have a couple of cookbooks that can keep you going with ideas? It’s easy to write down a goal, but much more valuable when you work out how you are going to do it day to day.
Are you accountable?
A lot of people make resolutions, but everyone knows that we probably won’t stick to them, including your friends. As a result, you probably won’t hold yourself to account and neither will your friends which sadly is a recipe for minimal resolution and results.
Here’s a great tip for when you’re trying to figure out a problem, whether that’s in your personal or professional life:
Work out what’s not working – and do the OPPOSITE!
Let’s take resolutions as an example. Based on the above, what would be the opposite of what we know doesn’t work? Answer:
Be realistic; set yourself up for success; think longer term; make a plan; and get a good friend to truly hold you to account and who will celebrate your success
Take the losing weight example. Instead of trying to lose 5kg in a month, try to lose 7kg over the course of the year. Imagine if you were 7kg lighter 12 months from today? That would be amazing! And much more realistic.
Or going to the gym (when we can again!) or having a run four times a week when you were barely going last year. Go twice a week. Just twice. Every week for the whole year. That will be 104 runs in 2021 which is a lot more than eight in January and very few thereafter. Much more achievable, and you’re setting yourself up for success.
And finally – the big secret – unexciting, but vital……
Be a master of good habits not a servant to bad habits
Long-term success is built on good habits. Going for those runs at a defined time that can’t be moved every week. Swapping full milk for light milk; swapping butter for a lighter spread, the list goes on.
Change happens over time. Positive Change and Negative Change.
You need a reason to make, and maintain, the effort to adjust a habit.
Think about the habits that don’t help you. Whatever they are. Decide to adjust those habits so that they help you. Do this over time. Stay with it. Make sure you have a good enough reason why you want to maintain the change, and pivot to a better habit.
If you do have a good reason (and if it’s emotionally important to you, even better), it will be enough to ensure that what can initially feel like hard work, ends up being simple. Simple because it becomes a habit. Habits “just happen” and you’ll have swapped it from a bad one to a good one.
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Take care, stay positive and we hope to see you soon!