How many times have you said the words “new year, new me?”, only to give up your plans to learn Spanish, visit the gym at least once a day, or cut down to only one take away a month by the second week of January? We’ve all been there plenty of times, but it’s time to work for the changes you want to see and make 2017 your year. Here are our 5 top tips for making a list of New Year’s resolutions you’ll actually stick to:
Make realistic expectations
No matter how much you want a six-pack by your summer holiday, if you’ve never set foot in a gym or picked up a vegetable it’s unlikely that you’ll achieve this (healthily) in the space of 5 or 6 months. Yes, any dream is possible, however it’s much more positive to break each goal into smaller steps and set yourself a realistic time frame to achieve each one. For instance, why don’t you say, “this year I will go to the gym at least X times a week, and will try at least X new healthy recipes a week”?
Ask yourself why
It’s important to ask yourself why you’re setting yourself such goals. If one of your goals is to spend more time with your family, remind yourself how much more relaxed and focused you feel at work when you’ve spent the weekend relaxing with your loved ones. However, it’s equally as important to recognise when you’ve been encouraged to set goals by other people. For instance, if you feel pressured to do something by someone else, such as to change your appearance or earn more money, it’s not likely that you’ll feel motivated – or happy.
Say “I will” rather than “I want”
Once you’ve figured out what it is that you want to achieve in 2017, make sure those goals don’t become another “what if”. Share your resolutions with others, and believe in yourself too. Saying “I will run a marathon” or “I will visit Australia” is much more focused than saying “I want to…” Write them on a list pinned to your fridge, or repeat them every day – whatever it takes to make you believe them.
Don’t be defeated by the first hurdle
Don’t panic if you haven’t achieved every New Year’s resolutions within the first few weeks. To make the goals sustainable they have to become a part of your lifestyle, which takes time and effort. If your goal is to quit smoking, having a cigarette in February doesn’t mean you should just give up and try again in 2018. Instead, look back at the progress you’ve made and learn from your setbacks!
Positive reinforcement is crucial for sticking to your goals, so don’t forget to reward yourself! Although the end goal will be the best possible reward, it’s important to treat yourself along the way, however try not to let your reward tempt you back towards old habits. Smoking a cigarette wouldn’t be a positive way to celebrate 6 months smoke free, just as binging on TV for a whole weekend wouldn’t help with your goal to watch less. Instead, plan a day trip or treat yourself to a nice meal out – anything which won’t hinder you from meeting your New Year’s resolutions.