Ah yes, the New Year’s reso. So noble and yet, somehow, so fatally flawed. With champagne-fuelled conviction, you promise yourself you’ll lose weight, exercise every day, save money, get a fabulous new job, stress less, stop smoking forever or be kinder and more generous of spirit. And then the corks stop popping and reality sets in. You might start strong but find it all falls apart. What’s up with that? Here’s the deal: making a resolution is inherently good! It means you’re aware of an area in your life that could use a little (or a lot) of fine-tuning. So the resolution isn’t the problem, it’s the execution. If yours fall in a heap come February then you need to take note of these foolproof tips.
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5 common New Year's resolutions
1. Lay the groundwork. Ask yourself how you’re going to achieve your plan. What steps will you take to get the ball rolling? Make a list. Spend time contemplating exactly what needs to happen, then start setting yourself up for success. For example, join a weight-loss group, sign up for the gym, enrol in a creative writing class, book an appointment with a financial advisor, see your GP to discuss the latest treatments to quit smoking and start networking new job opportunities. Without a specific plan of attack, it’s easy to drift off course or stay stuck in the same old rut.
2. Break it down. Your ultimate goal might be losing 30 kilos or running a marathon. Great! And, uh, overwhelming. Instead, think in increments and get specific. First, set a goal of five kilos or make small, achievable behaviour changes such as planning a healthy weekly menu or removing junk food from the pantry. As for the race, walk before you run! Buy a good pair of trainers and aim to do 10,000 steps every day.
3. Don’t deal in absolutes. Nix words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ from your vocab. You’ll never eat cake again? Yeah, sure. Sometimes you’ll be legitimately so busy or laid low with flu that you won’t make it to the gym, but sometimes you’ll just want to eat a piece of damn cake. This isn’t failure, this is life. So don’t beat yourself up. Just get back on track at the very next opportunity.
4. Stick to making one change at a time. Dieting is hard. Maintaining a regular exercise routine is hard. Quitting smoking is extremely hard. Practising being an all-round nicer person while attempting all of those things at the same time is nuts. Pick your battle and tackle one hard thing at a time!
5. Share the journey. Start a blog, join an online support group or become one of those adorable over-sharing friends on social media who hashtags their every move (just kidding, don’t do that). This fosters accountability to yourself and others. It’s also great for garnering positive feedback and encouragement, which can help you stick with it.
‘Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.’
- Oprah Winfrey