We’ve all done it – said we will start something on Monday, not actually start it, and begin the ‘next Monday’ cycle all over again. This tends to continue for the entire calendar year, until it seems fitting to make it a New Year’s resolution instead.
New Year’s resolutions can vary from joining a gym, to maintaining a better diet, to saving more money, and they usually all have one thing in common – they require substantial change, which isn’t easy! There are often a number of things we’d love to change about ourselves and our lifestyles, but finding the time or motivation to do so is an entirely separate matter.
Unfortunately New Year’s resolutions seldom make it past February, let alone making through the year. Here are 10 tips to help make 2014 different:
1. January 1st is just another day
You’re probably going to spend your first day of the New Year in bed with an awful champagne-related hangover, and it’s unlikely that you will want to get up and go to the gym or spend the day worrying about what you eat. A New Year certainly does have a particular psychological edge to it that can help kick-start a change, but it is important to remember that it is just another day, and you can make a change at any moment – be it January 10th or even March 4th – the most important thing is that you stick to it once you’ve started.
2. Resolutions can be small
When it comes to making resolutions, we tend to think of the biggest possible lifestyle change we can, but these can often be incredibly difficult to implement and stick to. We tend to forget the old saying “quality, not quantity”. Many smaller changes – such as spending more time with friends, spending less time on Facebook, reading more, or visiting family more often – are changes that are relatively easy to stick to, and can have really positive results.
3. Set yourself one resolution at a time
As mentioned above, you may wish to make a number of smaller changes as opposed to one radical change. Juggling too many changes at once can make it difficult to stick to all of them, so it’s much better to focus your motivation on one change at a time. Once your initial change has become a habit, move on to another – regardless of the date!
4. Get support
Once you’ve decided on your resolution, be sure to tell all of your family, friends and work colleagues about your plan for the New Year. Finding the motivation to stick to your change can be hard, and support (or constant nagging!) from your friends and family can give you that little push you need to focus on your goal.
5. Complete your change with a friend
This is related to the point above, and reiterates the point that support from family or friends can make a real difference, especially when we’re struggling to find that intrinsic motivation! If possible, why not complete your resolution with a friend? For example, if you both wish to visit the gym more often, going together will help add to your motivation, as you won’t want to let the other person down!
6. Make the change a gradual one
If your resolution is a big one, it can sometimes take a little time to make the change complete. For instance, if you plan to give up smoking, it’s highly unlikely that you will have miraculously given up completely by January 2nd. However, if you can cut down more and more as the months go by, and ensure you are continuously improving and making progress, you will have completed your change before you know it.
7. Work on it every day
Regardless of how strong our intentions are on New Year’s Day, many of us fall off the wagon months or even weeks into the year. Consequently, it’s vital to work on your change every single day and to not give your old habits a chance of making a return. The more you actively work on your resolution, the easier it will be for it to become the norm in your everyday life. Taking days off and reverting back to the ‘old you’ from time to time can make the change way tougher than it has to be, especially at the beginning.
8. Highlight the positives throughout
Many people often make the mistake of coming up with resolutions that they feel theyshould make, rather than resolutions they want to make. Deciding on something that you actually want to change will make it much easier to have a positive outlook on it throughout the year. For example, rather than linking negative vocabulary to your resolution such as “I can’t be bothered to go out with my friends tonight”, make sure you use positive terms such as “I always have such an enjoyable time once I’m out with friends” – this should help your intrinsic motivation!
9. Always visualise an end result
Changes can often seem slow, but as long as they are steady and there is always progress being made, your resolution is working brilliantly as you are constantly bettering yourself! You should always remind yourself of how you will look or what you will be like once you’ve completed your goal – this will help ensure you remain focused on your goal throughout. If your resolution is to improve your body and your health by visiting the gym more frequently, try printing out a photo of your goal and sticking it up next to your mirror. By doing this, you will be able to physically see your changes and how close you are getting to your desired goal.
10. Reward yourself!
Rewarding yourself is one of the most important things to do when ensuring you stick to your New Year’s resolution! Changes can be difficult and often require sacrifice. Consequently, it can be easy to give up as there are no immediate, obvious positives being felt or displayed. Providing yourself with a little reward every time you make progress is a fantastic motivator. Of course, I don’t mean treat yourself to a beer if you’re giving up alcohol, but to something unrelated that will make you happy – maybe a new pair of shoes?
Good luck everybody!