In the name of authenticity, I’m writing this at 7am on New Year’s morning. It’s still pitch black outside and the whole household sleeps, as does the street beyond our windows. I can hear the birds singing; it seems that we are the only one to have stirred. What a privileged way to begin my first morning of 2019.
To me, the New Year represents an opportunity to cleanse, as it does for many others. From my social media to my wardrobe and way of thinking; pretty much everything gets given an overhaul in my life so I can carry through only positive energy and honest intentions into the New Year.
If you’re serious about setting resolutions you’ll stick to, I recommend following these five steps.
- Get Specific
If you’ve been giving yourself a hard time for never following through with your New Year’s Resolutions, stop that right now. Often, resolutions are too vague to keep, so let’s focus on the fact that you set a positive intention to improve your lifestyle, health or circumstances and work from there.
To start, consider what you actually want. If you’re setting resolutions for the sake of it, you’re unlikely to follow through and take them seriously. Now it’s time to get specific. I like to ask myself ‘how?’ until I have my definitive answer.
For example: Say your goal is to be healthier / get in shape, how can you achieve this? Will you focus on improving your diet or physical fitness? Perhaps both? …how? You could include more fruits and veggies, drink more water, reduce your intake of processed foods or make fresh meals at home rather than eating more convenience meals. Fitness wise, you could join an exercise or movement class nearby, take up running, join a gym or find a great online course to workout at home. There are many choices, the key here is to choose the ones that feel the best fit for you (and not choose too many).
- Setting Realistic Resolutions
They say ‘shoot for the moon and you may land among the stars’. While big aspirations for your resolutions are to be admired, ensuring they are realistically achievable will be the difference between success and resorting back to old habits. That’s not to say your ‘big picture’ goal should be small, but breaking it down into smaller actions will prevent the feeling overwhelmed.
For example, if you’d like to be able to run a 10km race by the end of the year but you’re currently quite inactive, your resolution for January could be to build up to running 3km or find a nice route near your home to run three times a week.
When your resolutions are more realistic, you’ll see your progress quicker and be more motivated to continue.
- Track Your Progress
A sure-fire way to commit to your New Year Resolutions is to agree on how you’ll measure your progress.
If you’ve decided to eat fresher food and join a local gym, you could set an intention to prepare your lunches at home for work and exercise three times a week. Being able to track how well you stick to your intentions allows you to celebrate your achievements and act as a friendly reminder to honour the promise you’ve made to yourself if you start falling behind one week.
This is the time to make adjustments if needed. If you find that your other life commitments make it hard to attend those three workout classes, can you adapt it to a home workout programme? Perhaps you’ve found that the gym is the right place for you but you’re only really able to get there twice a week. If so, can you safely increase the time you spend there with an updated exercise plan that now works your whole body?
Remember that it’s ok to change things to better suit your lifestyle, as long as you’re not using it as an excuse.
- Get Accountable
Whether you’re holding yourself responsible or sharing your goals with someone else, being accountable is a highly valuable trait for success.
It’s one thing to think about making a change, but saying it aloud makes it feel more real. Even better, if you and a friend can check in with how the other is doing with their goals, you can offer mutual support and encouragement.
Some people like to share their resolutions and updates throughout the months on social media. The added boost from friends congratulating you on your progress can be highly beneficial and you could inspire someone else to take action.
- Set a Time Limit
New Year’s Resolutions are perfect for this, as you can use the 12 months of the year as benchmarks. Your resolution may be to adopt a new habit, in which case you could aim for it to become second nature in 3 months time, after which you can work on adopting another new habit. For example, you may wish to cook more at home, once this is a regular occurrence, you may wish to learn more vegetarian and vegan meals as you move towards a more plant-based diet, following this, perhaps you’d like to start meal prepping for the week to maximise time and efficiency? Setting all of these three goals on January 1st would have been overwhelming, but setting a time limit has made them much more achievable.
Another example could be the ‘running 10km’ example that we used earlier. Perhaps in January, you aim to run/walk 3km. In February you can progress this to 5, March can be to run 5km without walking breaks, etc. until you reach your goal of running 10km.
Remember to be kind to yourself. Your New Year’s Resolutions are set with good intentions so if you feel like you’re falling behind at any point, just regroup, refocus and pick up where you left off.
We’re all human, we all make mistakes and have some weeks that we write off as ‘learning curves’. That’s ok! Hold onto the notion of WHY you want to make those changes and think of how proud you’ll be of yourself when this time next year you’ve not only achieved your goals but probably created and conquered some new ones too!
I wish you prosperity and fortune in 2019.