As the final strains of Auld Lang Syne, fade our thoughts turn to the New Year and all the resolutions we are so determined to keep, just like last year’s which were a distant memory by the end of February!
The new year does not mean that it is time for self-imposed hardship: giving up smoking, losing weight, getting fitter, etc. It is also a time to reflect on what you have achieved over the last twelve months, and to consider what lifestyle changes you want to work toward in the next.
Making dramatic changes to the way you live your life will not happen overnight and it’s important to keep your resolutions and goals realistic. Nothing is more guaranteed to kill your motivation than the constant feeling of failure because you are struggling to keep your resolutions on track.
If you keep your goals realistic, you’re far more likely to stick to your planned path as the year progresses. Make small changes and incorporate them into your everyday life rather than trying for a massively radical change all in one go.
Here are some tips to help you to keep your New Year’s resolutions intact right through to 2015!
1. Start off small:
Only make resolutions that you are confident you can keep. If you want to change your diet and lose weight, begin by replacing that cream cake dessert with a healthy piece of fruit and substitute sugar in your coffee with sweetener. Go one step further and maybe swap cream for skimmed milk or start taking your morning coffee or tea black. Don’t immediately deny yourself everything except salad or you’re bound to fail and your new healthier eating plan will feel like a form of punishment.
Rather than signing up for a full gym membership, resolve to go for three sessions each week instead of promising yourself that you’ll go every day.
2. Take one step at a time:
Unhealthy behavior develops gradually so it makes sense to ‘unlearn’ those behaviors in the same way. Take things one step at a time. Rather than trying to change a dozen different aspects in your life all at once, break the changes down into manageable steps and work toward your ultimate goal through a series of smaller, easy to achieve phases.
3. Talk it through with others:
Any form of life-changing action is much easier with support. Get your family and friends involved in your resolutions so that you can share your experiences with them. If you’re trying to give up smoking, join a support group or if fitness is your goal, check out classes full of like-minded people at the gym. In this way you will connect with others who are working toward the same goal as you and you will all support and encourage each other.
4. Don’t punish yourself:
There will be times when you lose track of your resolutions. Perhaps you’ve been so busy with the kids you didn’t have time to get to the gym one week or maybe you just couldn’t resist that delicious creamy pudding when you dined out with friends. This is quite normal and doesn’t mean you’ve failed. After all, look at all the good work you’ve done so far; get back on track and pick up where you left off.
The road to achieving your goals is not guaranteed to be easy so never be afraid to ask others around you for support and help. If you feel your resolve wavering, just ask for reassurance to keep you on track.
Depending upon your resolution, professional input from a counselor might be the best route to take. A psychologist could offer you a definitive strategy which will help you to change the behaviors you are trying to alter.
Perhaps the most important piece of advice is to; “keep your eyes on the prize”. When you feel yourself faltering think about why you made the resolution in the first place and how much better your life will be when you achieve it. Re-focus and keep going.
You can do it!
*Image courtesy Flickr creative commons.