How to make new year’s resolutions work for you…

It’s the beginning of another year and I imagine there are a lot of you who have (yet again) set yourselves new year’s resolutions; although deep down you’re wondering whether they’ll just become more failed attempts a couple of months down the line (like every other year). But why is it that resolutions are so hard to keep? Why is it that we can’t seem to stick to them?

Here are some things to look out for:

  • Be realistic with goals
    Often we set ourselves numerous, incredibly challenging goals and while it’s great to think big and have high expectations for ourselves, sometimes we try to do too much too fast, then often give up when we start to feel overwhelmed. My advice would be to prioritise just one or two goals that are most important to you, and yes, set big targets but break these down into smaller targets/milestones where possible, to help keep you on track. Some people find it helps to write these down in a journal or note them on a wall calendar.
  • Stop trying to be perfect
    One of the reasons we all like to start goals on a Monday, or at the start of a new year is because we feel like it gives us a clean slate. We want to start from scratch and be perfect moving forward, but this approach is flawed because we will never be perfect and circumstances will never be perfect either. There will be a day you miss a run or forget to study, or you’ll smoke a cigarette, or eat a burger – and that’s ok. Setting goals is about your self development, it’s about improving, about having direction and moving forward in areas of your life. You are not making a commitment to be perfect so remember that. My advice is to start on a Tuesday or a Friday or do something ‘imperfect’ early on then carry on working towards your goals knowing you’ve got the obsession with doing everything ‘just right’ out the way.
  • No guilt, just responsibility
    When we make a decision that we later regret regarding our resolutions, we tend to give ourselves a hard time and the guilt sets in. This doesn’t help us continue working towards our goals and can affect our confidence, so my advice here is to remind yourself that the decision you made takes you away from your goal rather than towards it, acknowledge that you intend to make a different decision next time, remind yourself that you are strong and capable of achieving your goals then move on! You are of course responsible for your actions but don’t equate responsibility with guilt.
  • Be prepared to feel bad
    We all know what it feels like to be inspired by something or someone, to feel a sudden rush of motivation. We’re excited and want to take action immediately and that anticipation/excitement/energy lasts a while but then gradually tails off… you slowly begin to feel flat, the motivation dwindlers and goals you’ve set seem like they’re fading into the distance. We’re so enthusiastic about our goals at the start, we feel powerful and driven and we don’t plan for feeling anything else – and that’s a mistake. My advice is to prepare yourself in advance for feeling bad. I’m referring to the rough bit, the second stage where our thoughts change, self doubt creeps in, this is the time where the novelty wears off and the hard work really begins. This is the wall of pain you need to push through. If you can plan in advance for this then when it happens you can tell yourself “It’s ok that I feel this way, this is supposed to happen, this is normal.” This is when you want a good motivational quote/positive belief on hand to help you through. Use something that is positive but it also needs to be something you can believe about yourself. For example if your goal is to run a marathon and you’re currently building up to running 10k, there’s probably no point choosing a belief like “I’m the fittest and fastest runner on the planet” instead I’d recommend choosing something like “I’m capable of becoming a strong athlete”. Select something that resonates with you and repeat it at the start of each day.

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