The Christmas festivities are over and we now turn our attention to the New Year. As we reflect on the year that was, learn from it and look forward to the coming one, many of us have a few New Years Resolutions in mind to become better versions of ourselves next year.
Some of us will be committing to removing a well relied on vice, like cigarettes or the wine every evening. Others will be adding some better lifestyle habits, perhaps getting a gym membership or embarking on a new diet. Whatever the resolution is, it will involve some changing oneself to a certain degree.
Unfortunately, the wave of New Year energy that gets us all excited about our resolutions predictably fizzles, with approximately 90% of us failing them within a month. Some of the resolutions that we promise to ourselves might be too big, too general or too hard. While some fail because we didn’t make the resolution in the first place. Someone in our lives urged us to make the change. Like that ever works.
We all have good intentions when we commit to making our resolutions; it’s just keeping them that’s a little difficult. There are several steps involved in making sustainable New Year Resolutions that stick around for a long time:
1. Go Easy First: Have a think about what you want to change about your life. Pick the resolution that is the easiest or you’re more motivated to do first up. This maximizes your chance of success. You can leave the harder resolutions for later when your confidence is higher. Once you have maintained that resolution, then move on to the next on the list.
2. Know Your ‘Why’: Have a think about why you have chosen the resolution and why it’s important for this change. Knowing why you want to change helps you stay focused on why this matters in your life. Quitting smoking might be a resolution, but being able to run around with your kids or live a longer life, might be the driver behind this big change.
3. Keep It Small: Once you have picked a resolution, break it down into small goals or steps that involve actions. The plan might be to lose 10 kilograms, so you need to plan how are you going to do it. It might mean walking after work for 30 minutes, or jogging every second morning. Know when you are going to do it, how long you are going to do it for and where you are going to do it. Schedule the resolution into your life.
4. Rely On Yourself: When choosing a resolution, make sure that it’s yours, and that you don’t need to rely on anyone else to achieve it. Try not to be reliant on other people because they’re not always on the same page as you. Don’t let their barriers become your barriers.
5. Don’t Deprive: Bring a change that adds something beneficial into your life, rather than taking something away. Dieting doesn't make you feel happy at the beginning as you are depriving your body. However, adding nutritious foods into your diet first makes you feel nourished and content. You are gaining something immediately, rather than taking too much away. This makes you feel good straight off the bat, and you are more likely to push on with your goal.
6. Keep Your Eye On The Prize: Going back to old ways happens to many of us after a week or so of change. Research has shown that making progress can cause us to stuff up our resolutions. Our mind tricks us into thinking we need a reward for what we’ve achieved so far and our self-control buckles. Keep your eye on the prize, rather than what you have done so far.
7. Don’t Give Up: Those that attempt self-change rarely succeed the first time, so it’s likely that you will relapse to old habits. But that’s okay. Relapse is returning to the old behaviour that you were trying to get rid of, and is part of any behaviour change. If you revert back to your old ways, then don’t wait for another year to try again, try the next day. Persistence is the key.
Setting New Years Resolutions takes a little more than committing to a goal after the clock strikes midnight. To make them resolutions stick we have to plan them well, and put effort into sustaining them. Change is incredibly difficult, so go easy on yourself and don’t give up. Our resolutions can last longer than January if we just put our minds to it.