2017 is drawing to a close… It’s a time to reflect on the year behind us, and look forward to the year ahead. So you’ve made your New Year’s Resolution, hoping this time you’ll stick to it, ignoring the fact that you haven’t for the past 13 years. But why is it so hard to keep them? Read on for some handy tips to help you keep your New Year’s Resolution! Have a happy 2018!
Why do we make resolutions?
New year, new me. It’s impossible to navigate social media in January without seeing everyone’s declarations of self-improvement. You’ve just checked in at the gym. Sandra’s been for a run. And Steve hasn’t had a cigarette in three hours. Great! But why now?
A new year feels like a fresh start. A chance at a new beginning. So we think of the person we want to be, and how we can get there. This is a tradition dating back to Roman times. The month January is named after the two-faced Roman god Janus, who looks back into the past and towards the future. On December 31st, Romans believed he looked back into the old year and forwards into the new year. It was a time to have past behaviours forgiven, seek blessings for the new year, and make resolutions.
Doomed to fail?
If you have trouble sticking to your New Year’s Resolution, you’re not alone. According to US News, 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by the second week in February.
Gym memberships hit their peak in January. But good intentions soon turn to a wasted direct debit, and you realise that you’re paying £40 a month for an unused membership card. Your Nando’s card, however, is only a few stamps away from a free chicken…
So Sandra hasn’t been on a run since January 1st, and Steve’s back to smoking like a chimney. What could they have done differently?
Start with small steps
You want to get in shape? Don’t make your New Year’s Resolution ‘go to the gym 5 times a week’, if you haven’t been to the gym 5 times in the past year. Start small. Aim for 3 active days a week. This could be swimming, walking, running, anything active!
If you want to give up smoking and don’t think cold turkey is for you, try reduce your cigarettes gradually. Get an e-cig and slowly reduce the nicotine content.
Want a new job? Start by working on your CV. Want to cut out junk food? Start by cutting down. Give yourself the best possible chance to succeed by starting small. Even baby steps move you forwards.
A study found that participants in a weight-loss trial lost 6.5lbs more when they were grouped with their family and friends, rather than solely provided with weight loss resources. Social networks provide support and motivation that can lead to greater success than doing it alone. Get a gym buddy. Join a club with the same goal. Ask your partner to join you with your salad, instead of waving a fry-up in front of your face.
Even if other people don’t necessarily participate, they can still provide their support. Doing a 30 day exercise challenge? Send your bestie a sweaty selfie afterwards. Once you know they’re expecting it, you’ll feel extra motivation not to miss a day!
Don’t get disheartened
So you swore you’d never eat crisps again, and you’re covered in Doritos crumbs on January 3rd. It’s okay. You don’t need to give up straight away because of a little blip. Say to yourself: ‘it’s a bump in the road, but I’ll keep trying’. If you broke your diet by having a cheat meal, don’t think ‘ah well, ruined it now’ and turn that into a cheat day and a cheat week. Accept it and move on.
You’ve got 365 blank pages of a book where you’re the author and the star. Don’t think you’re a failure because you messed up on page 3.
Focus on the positives
You said you’d learn a new language, and so far you can only say ‘hi’, ‘bye’, and ‘how are you’. That’s 3 more phrases than you could say last year! Take each milestone as a victory, and celebrate your victories. Even if you only lost 1lb when you aimed to lose 3lbs, you still lost 1lb!
Make it enjoyable
You want to be healthy, but hate salad? Focus on eating foods you like! Eating right isn’t all about lettuce leaves and boiled chicken. If your favourite food is curry from the Indian takeaway round the corner, make your own version. Use healthy oils in limited amounts to significantly cut down the grease and the fat. Watch out for our upcoming blog post on How to Stick to your Diet for some tips.
If you hate the gym, try exercise videos . You can burn calories from the comfort of your own home, with most videos not requiring any equipment whatsoever! YouTube is a great resource – there are thousands of workout videos available for free. Exercise classes can be a fun alternative too – shaking your booty to Zumba certainly sounds more enjoyable than staring at a wall while you run on a treadmill.
Get the resources you need
If you want to be more organised, a diary with plenty of space to write your tasks will help. Try keeping a whiteboard or notebook near your bed to write things you need to remember. You want to start a blog? Get your URL sorted.
If you want to learn a new skill, there are many free courses out there. Try Open Learn fron The Open University where you can access courses on a vast range of subjects, including Beginner’s Spanish, Climate Change, Management, and Systems Engineering.
Track your progress
It’s great to be able to visually chart how you’re doing. Get a calendar and draw a smiley face every day you stick to your goals. Seeing those 3 days smiling down at you can cheer you on to make it to 4! Even if you aimed for 5 days of exercise a week and you only managed 4, you can look at your chart and be reminded that your week wasn’t a failure.
Write a list of the things you want to do in the week, and feel the satisfaction of crossing them off.
Just DO IT!
Stop focussing on what could go wrong, and dive in! You might not succeed straight away, but that’s okay. Try your best. Try again. You can do it!