How to keep new year's resolutions
I have been pondering since December as to if I should write this blog, it feels like everyone is capitalising on selling their product or service by talking about how what they can offer can give you the “New Year New Me” cliché. I don’t want to be part to anything that exploits vulnerabilities. So the purpose of this blog is not to sell you anything. It is to give you the strategies that me and my clients have found the most helpful.
On Wednesday 16th Jan I will be offering free telephone coaching to anyone that would like to chat through their resolutions, gain support in setting a resolution or explore the strategies that I have written about further. Details are at the bottom, of the blog. There won’t be a sales pitch: I am doing it as I have given myself a day off and it is something that I enjoy doing. Also its not fully altruistic – I get my work through word of so the more people I help the more likely people are to hear of my services!
If you have set a new years resolution as you read this think about how each point relates to you. If you have not set one use these tips to think about your future goals. So before we get started on the strategies ask yourself:
1) Do you associate new year's resolution with breaking them.
No? – move on to the next point (Although I suspect you will be in the minority – we are in a culture that almost celebrates failing at them)
Yes? Then reframe it, rather than calling a new year’s resolution call it an intention or goal.
2) Do you have more than one?
There is mixed evidence as if having more than one goal works. By having one goal you can put all your energy into creating the new habit and sustaining it but having multiple goals can sometimes be helpful as you can focus on a range of different areas. Keep it to less than three goals.
Strategy 1: Identify the goal and ask why you are making it.
The “Why” is very important – is the reason you are making the goal for you if it is then you have a greater chance of success. Does the achieving the goal come with a sense of excitement or contentment – make a quick list of the benefits of your resolution. Ensure that the resolution is within your control. If my goal was “To be less stressed” –I don’t have a crystal ball to be able to see into the future and know what stresses I am going to encounter in the coming year. What I am in control of is “To do mindfulness three times a week” or “To try out four different activities by Feb that could have the potential to be stress relieving or relaxing.”
Essentially you need to set a SMART goal, be specific so that you know what you are working towards. And rather than holding in your head write it down and make a note in your calendar as to when you are going to do certain actions towards it.
Will the actions address the thing you want changing. If you are changing your diet and the intention is to give you more energy then reducing the quantity of food but eating low fat sugary foods won’t address the goal of increasing energy.
Strategy 2: Know your barriers
So that you can plan for if they happen. Accountability can sometimes be a useful tool – to tell someone supportive what your intention is. If you notice you aren’t sticking to your goal, be kind to yourself and then do a practical thing that will orientate you back to your goal. It’s natural to feel that it’s a backwards step but it is natural to revert back to old behaviours and each time it happens it gives you an opportunity to practice adapting, being flexible and going back towards your goal.
Strategy 3: Start from a place of safety
You don’t want your goal to be so challenging that it’s not achievable. Make it as achievable by making small steps. When I was 12 and told my Mum “I Want to be veggie” she said that’s fine but learn to cook. I would have been malnutritioned pretty quickly if I had relied on eating the only veggie food I could make (Pot noodle and toast), so I learnt to cook familiar foods such as oven cook veg, then stir fry, then cook pasta, then before you know it I can make my own balanced meals. I then started I doubt I would still be veggie now if I had straight away started to eat unfamiliar foods with unfamiliar cooking techniques
Strategy 4: Stretch yourself
If your goal was easy you would have already done it, so expect it to be hard, but doing something that stretches you is likely to be rewarding whilst you explore what it is like to work on your goal.
Strategy 5: Review it
Put a date in the calendar now for reviewing it – make a note about what success would look like at that point in time and what you will do to help if you have gone off track.
If you have any tips of your own that could help others then make a comment. If you would like to speak to me about your resolutions on Wed 16th Jan then please fill in this form with your details and preferred time and I will text you back to confirm.