New Year is the perfect time to review the previous year and reflect on the changes that we would like to make in our lives. But making resolutions is one thing, and keeping them is another. According to one survey, 35% of us break our New Year's resolutions by the end of January! (howstuffworks,com)
Why is this?
Well, we might get a little over-zealous and over-commit.
We might not think things through carefully and make the wrong resolution in the first place.
We might lack energy and motivation, despite out best intentions.
However well-intentioned and motivated we are, it can help to have a few pointers to support us and help increase our chances of success.
1. Genuine Intention
Only make resolutions that you genuinely want to achieve. Don't resolve to do something that you don't really want to do, or that you may be doing just because someone else thinks it's a good idea.
2. Make your resolutions realistic
For example, if you are a couch potato who wants to exercise more, start with a small achievable goal rather than resolving to run a marathon by March!
3. Be specific
It will be easier to keep sight of your goals and evaluate your success if you know exactly what you are aiming for. For example, rather than a general goal of exercising more, work out what this means in practice, e.g. "I will take a brisk walk for half an hour at least 5 days per week".
4. Break larger goals down into small steps
This will help you progress towards an end goal without feeling overwhelmed. As the old saying goes:
"How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time."
5. Write it down
Research shows that we are more likely to achieve our goals if we write them down.
6. Get an accountability buddy
This works well for goals in all walks of life - health and well-being, personal or business. Telling someone what you intend to do and agreeing to keep them updated with your progress works wonders for motivation! Even better, choose someone with the same resolution and share tips, efforts and wins.
7. Review and evaluate
Set timescales for your goals and review your progress regularly. Tick off those already achieved and review those you are still working on. Be prepared to be flexible and make sensible adjustments where necessary.
8. Don't lose heart
Don't give up just because you have the odd slip up! They say it takes 66 days to form a new habit. If you find yourself slipping occasionally, this is quite normal and no reason to think you are bound to fail. Cut yourself some slack and remember that you are only human.
9. Focus on the positive
Rather than dwelling on what you didn't manage, focus on your successes e.g. instead of "I didn't do x on 2 days this week" you could tell yourself "I stuck to my resolution 5 days out of 7 this week - that's a good start!"
10. Reward yourself
Plan a reward of some sort to celebrate your successes to help motivate you (a bit like the star charts we motivate our children with!) Allow yourself to be proud of your achievements.