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New Year’s Resolutions – biting off less than you can chew.

I’m in two minds about New Year’s Resolutions really.

I think the 1st January is not a great day for any of us to have resolve. We’ve usually been up late the night before and it follows a week or two of non-routine with social events, visits and over-indulgence. We feel a bit sluggish on the first of January, or at least I do.

Some people will return to work on the 2nd January, but some will take a few more days off, and the kids generally don’t go back to school until after the 6th January.

If you’re planning to make some resolutions, I always recommend to wait until “normal life” has resumed after the Christmas and New Year’s break as routine will be a big help in sticking to your goals.

January can be a dull, dreary and quiet month too and perhaps better spent reflecting and being kind to ourselves. It is still very dark outside, but towards the end of the month we should see a change in the evenings beginning which should put us in a more optimistic mood.

So, if you’ve had time to think about things over Christmas or January, what are your plans?

What would you like to achieve in 2019?

I know I’ve found lists of resolutions which have basically the same every year. You too?? Why is that? Apparently 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by February.

It’s usually because we set too-high expectations for ourselves. With the psychological “new start” the New Year provides, we think this will automatically translate into a new us who can suddenly change from slobbing around in our PJs watching movies and eating Pringles, to getting up at 5.30am to go to the gym before work 4 days a week.

If you’ve never gone to the gym 4 days a week in your life, what makes you think you’ll jump out of bed on a dark January morning to go, having just had 2 weeks off work? Why do you want to go to the gym 4 days a week anyway?

Also, we overwhelm ourselves with a huge list of resolutions:

Lose weight

Stop smoking

Stop drinking

Learn Italian

Go cycling

Save money

Spend less time on the phone

Read more

Get a new job

Get a new relationship

Join an exercise class

Learn to ballroom dance

Write a book

Wow! I’m exhausted just looking at all that. It’s no wonder we just sigh after a few days and then give up. Its just all too much and I want to go back to bed!

So what’s the trick? Is there one? Here are a few of my thoughts:

Narrow it down

So firstly let’s narrow the list. It’s not humanly possible to do everything on this list. So pick one or two. Think about what is the most important thing to you right now. What is the most important thing for you to achieve this year? Let’s says it’s to lose weight (or insert your own resolution and vary the steps accordingly!).

What’s your WHY?

Then think of WHY you want that goal. Is it to look good? Is it to be healthier? You should phrase your goal in the positive. “I want to be healthier” as opposed to “I want to lose weight”.

Own it.

Also important to know – is it your goal, or is it someone else’s? Is your current weight actually healthy and you’re either under pressure from someone else, or giving yourself comparison-itis comparing yourself to stick insects in Instagram?

Slow and steady wins the race

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

Give yourself small steps each day towards your goal. Starving yourself isn’t sustainable and the more extreme you go, the less likely you are to stick with it.

So, using the weight loss as an example again. What could you do today or this week towards that goal?

If you usually have a full fat latte in the morning, then maybe you could go for a skinny or an americano. If you add that up over the week, its quite a calorie saving. Same goes for exercise; if you take the stairs in stead of the lift every day for a week it will increase your steps and your aerobic exercise. Yes, I know you may say “That’s not going to make a difference”, but it will. It’s small, it’s sustainable and it gets you in new habits. A lot of our bad habits are just that – habits – and we do them unconsciously. Our brain gets used to that, accepts it as a routine, and forms the habit. So we just need to teach our brain new habits. After a few weeks of using the stairs and changing your coffee order, you may find yourself moving on to some other new habit, especially if you see positive results.

Accountability Buddies

If your goal is to learn something new, then signing up for a class and enlisting a buddy means that you will be accountable both to the class and to the friend, which will make you more likely to attend. Also if you’ve invested some money in it, you’re more likely to want to get “value”.

Future you

If your resolution is something else, like get a new job, I would suggest trying to project yourself into the future. What do you want to be doing in say 12 months’ time? How would you feel if you were still in the same job this time next year? Again, think about why you want this. What is important to you in this aspect of your life. There is research to suggest that New Years Resolutions fail as we find it hard to connect with our future selves, so things like visualising and vision boards can help here (not just in change of job situations, but in all areas of life and in general).

So, be kind to yourself this January. Don’t give yourself a hard time making pages of resolutions on the 1st of January. Take a little time to reflect and if your resolutions start on the 14th January, or the 1st of February the important thing is that you’ve started.

Don’t bite off more than you can chew!

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