The new year is fast approaching and while some people will say you shouldn’t need to wait for a fresh year to make a healthy change, I know I for one find it very useful to have the momentum of a new year beginning when setting goals. Often new year’s resolutions can be made in the spare of the moment and without the forward planning falter within a few weeks. Habits are really difficult things to changes and often desire and motivation alone isn’t enough, taking some time to review, consider and plan for your change will significantly improve your chances of success.
Whatever the resolution is you have in mind, whether it’s around career goals, healthier eating habits, more exercise, more adventures etc., the below tips will support you to succeed this year.
1) Be realistic
All too often we set ourselves up for failure by setting unachievable goals. Have patient with yourself and set a goal that is achievable, even if it takes a little longer to reach than you would initially like.
2) Break it down
New Year’s resolutions usually start out as a larger longer-term goal which can feel overwhelming, so It’s key to break it down into short-term smaller chunks. What can I focus on this week, this month, the next three months and so on. Not only will this help you succeed in your longer-term goal you will have a lot of smaller wins to celebrate along the way. Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely).
3) Don’t overload
Don’t try and make too many changes or resolutions at once. If in general your goal is to be healthier, focus on one thing at a time i.e. first focusing on reducing alcohol, then your diet, and then look to join a gym.
4) Use a mood diary
Starting to become more aware of how your emotions may trigger your bad habits can be a really useful way of ensuring you are finding healthier ways of caring for yourself when you’re stressed or down. Keeping a mood diary where you ask yourself “How am I feeling?” and “What do I need?” will help you pin point the emotions that are fuelling the behaviours you are trying to change.
5) Find support from others
Starting a resolution with a close friend or partner can help provide some much-needed support during a difficult journey. Don’t be afraid to ask for special allowances and encouragement from those who know you best.
6) Expect some setbacks
Embrace the fact that lapses will happen as it is inevitable that there will be some moments you give into temptation when trying to change something you enjoy. Try not to beat yourself up too much and just look at what you can learn from the slip-up. Long lasting changes won’t happen overnight.
7) Reward yourself
Plan some rewards for yourself as you reach your smaller goals along the way to the overarching change you are working towards. For example, if you’re giving up smoking spend the money you would have spent on cigarettes on a “treat” for yourself. The sense that this “treat” has been earned by the change will spur you on to keep pushing through the harder times.
But firstly have a Merry Christmas and a very Happy New Year!