How are those new years resolution going? Not so good? Given up or finding it hard? Don’t panic ……
We usually make new years resolutions in December with every intention of implementing a change come January 1st. However between 80% and 90% of new years resolutions fail. Why? Because we approach them with the wrong mindset. In December we feel as though in the new year we can press a magic button at the stroke of midnight on new years eve making that resolution all of a sudden easy.
Excuses excuses ….
Do these sound familiar?
“I’ll do it in the new year, there’s too much going on at the moment what with Christmas and the New Year.”
“It will be easier in January, it will be a new start.”
“I’m really going to put my mind to it in January and make sure I do it every day.”
The problem with these statements is that if you’re busy in December, you’ll be busy in January. You’re a busy person. There’s lots to do. EVERY month
January isn’t a new start. January is a middle. December … January … February … . January doesn’t have any magical powers to make tough things easy.
If you’re going to put your mind to something. Then do it. What’s stopping you doing in today, in June, in November or December. There’s no need to wait until 1st January. You can start on 7th January if you want just as much as you can on 1st January! If by January 7th you haven’t stuck to your new years resolution, SO WHAT! Start again on the 8th. New years resolutions don’t come with a contract where you sign up to committing yourself either 100% or 0%.
Another reason new years resolutions fail is a lack of planning.
December: “I’m going to eat really healthy in January”
January: “But there’s still loads of crisps and mince pies left and I haven’t bought any vegetables yet. And now I’m starving”
So here are my tips for implementing a change (what you used to call a new year’s resolution)
1. Small Steps. Let’s say you’ve never run in your life but you want to run a marathon. Don’t plan to run a marathon next week. It’s not going to happen. However, if you want to run a marathon, then no problem, that’s a valid LONG-TERM goal. Think of a flight of stairs. In order to reach the top, you need to pass step 1 first, and then step 2 ….. So break it down into small steps. Before I can run 26.2 miles, I need to be able to run 1 mile, then 2 miles. Set a goal for running 1 mile first, or even walking 1 mile first. (More on goal setting on Friday….)
2. Set an Implementation Intention. It’s no good saying you’ll start flossing your teeth every day, and then climbing into bed every night and realising you keep forgetting. If you have the intention of flossing every day, put the floss somewhere you’ll see it every day. A good idea here would be to rest it against the toothpaste tube or keep it in front of your toothbrush.
If you’re getting into running, before you leave for work in the morning, put your running kit on the bed instead of your pyjamas, and change straight into it when you get home.
Want to read more books? Leave a book on your pillow or on top of the remote control in the lounge, or set a reminder on your phone for when Eastenders finishes.
3. Make it a habit. You’ve heard the saying ‘we are creatures of habit’ but what does that mean? A habit is a pattern of behaviour established by continual repetition. So repeat your new resolution and it will soon become easier to do, or at least, easier to remember do.
4. Reward yourself for achieving the small steps. Want to run a marathon? Once you have walked a mile, that is a great achievement if before, you couldn’t walk a mile. Give yourself a pat on the back for reaching step 1. Maybe even buy yourself those running shoes you’ve got your eye on. Now aim for 2 miles.
5. Be prepared for difficulties. A difficulty, a hic-up, an upset, isn’t a failure. 2 steps forward and one step back, is one step forward. Start running and feel ill? Can’t get yourself out the door? No problem. Look after yourself, get better, and then resume. Just because you take a week off doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Maybe use that time to research running routes, or running shoes, or local running clubs. Dental floss run out? (Doubtful, those things go on for years!) no problem. Buy another when you can and resume. Spend more time brushing until you have another 27 years supply. Lost 5 pounds and put 2 back on? Well done you’ve lost 3 pounds. Now resume.
6. Seek advice and support. Running clubs, magazines, running shops, online forums, dentists (for flossing advice, not running).
For many, a feeling of being a failure, the need to do something perfect, being obsessive, getting angry, wound up, anxious, depressed is a real consequence of not carrying out our resolutions or goals, or even in the pursuit of our goals. If life becomes a struggle or you just want to feel better about yourself, seek advice from a doctor and/or a therapist.
Setting goals is a key part of Cognitive Behaviour Therapy as we can help people achieve and feel like there is more purpose to life.
So what is your January 7th resolution? …..