If you’re like me, you are likely to be one of the estimated 30% of the UK population who will make a New Year’s resolution of some kind by January 1st. That’s approx 12.4 billion people and nearly half of those self-promises will relate to health and exercise – the most popular being to lose weight and get fit.
The problem is, stats show that over 500,000 of us who make resolutions will have already failed to meet our New Year goals by the 2nd of January!
So why do we do it? Are our New Year goals just totally unrealistic in the first place? Are we a nation of dreamers who think things will come easily to us?
The key lies in the way we make our resolutions. American self-help author Melody Beattie says ‘The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.’
A great way to interpret this is to break our goals down into smaller, manageable steps so that we won’t get discouraged and give up too easily.
For example, if your goal is to lose 3 stone then break it down and make it more achievable. Set yourself a target weight to lose over the course of a month, and set smaller targets in between such as going to the gym twice a week or not eating takeaways. These small resolutions will change your behaviour in the long term and can really feel like you are making progress, rather than thinking that the challenge is just too great and giving up within days.’
Here are some more tips you might like to use when planning your goals for the new year.
Be realistic about your resolutions. If you can actually see yourself achieving it then it is more likely that you will stick to it. 63% of people that start New Year’s resolutions fail within the first month so keep it real and don’t lie to yourself.
It can be inspiring and fun to have an ambitious goal but if you can’t tell if you are getting closer to achieving it then you will fail. For example; you can’t exactly measure how happy you are but you can measure how many nice or good things you have done for others in the past week.
While working towards your goal, you must always believe you can do it. If you doubt yourself, you will start to become complacent and will slowly give up. If you allow yourself to take a break even for a small period of time you will most likely never get back to working on achieving your goal.
Having a list up on the wall of what your goals are and how you plan to achieve them will help stop you from giving up. For example, have it on the wall facing you when you wake up, it will keep it fresh in your mind so you won’t start to forget or doubt yourself.
This happens more often than you think, where people set themselves extremely long-term goals that can be very difficult for many people to stick too. This is simply because the more time it takes to achieve the goal the more time you have to quit before you achieve it.
For example; it appears easier to stop drinking carbonated drinks for 6 weeks than trying to stop for an entire year.
After you have been working towards your set goal, you can start to give yourself small challenges to keep you from slipping into laziness. It could be a simple challenge like adding an extra 5 minutes to your workout or not checking your social media accounts until the evening.
If you can have a friend trying to achieve the same goal will help keep both of you on track. This buddy system helps both of you as to not let each other down by giving up or putting it off.
The most important step is setting up a cue to remind yourself of your resolution each day – for example leaving your running shoes by the back door – and of course, you need to reward yourself (in a healthy way!) for committing to changing your habits.