New Year’s Resolutions.
Love them or hate them? For many they’re a chance to head into the new year with good intentions, brimming with motivation. For others, they’re a sad reminder in mid-January (at the latest) that we lack willpower, hammering home that internal monologue which catalogs our failures. We pick up habits all the time, so it’s not forming the habit that’s holding us back. I f you’re anything like me, there’s a whole lot of things that I do now that I had to learn how to do over the course of the last year (many of which I’d happily dump any minute now). We are constantly evolving and adapting ourselves, our routines, and habits to fit into our lives, which makes it interesting to consider exactly why it is that New Year’s Resolutions seem to be so hard to stick to.
Focus on one change at a time.
While there might be loads of things you want to change, the key to success is keeping things manageable. While many different things might come under one greater category like “improving my health”, you’re more likely to be successful if you pick one specific behaviour to focus on. You might choose to focus on your diet, prioritise exercise, or finally get all those outstanding routine medical tests ticked off the list. If you keep your resolution specific and focused, you’re much more likely to be successful.
Are you thinking too big?
While some people respond well to challenging goals, most of us get discouraged when something seems unobtainable. It’s much better to start small and make resolutions that you really think you can keep. If you want to get fitter, commit to a couple of sessions of exercise a week rather than planning to hit the gym 7 days a week. Build in the opportunity for you to exceed your goals, it gives you a great mental boost knowing that you’re doing more than you set out to which helps you stay motivated and positive.
Focus on things you can control.
You can’t control how much weight you lose, or when (sorry). However, you can control the types of food that you eat, when you eat, if you’re snacking, and what exercise you’re doing. By breaking down a larger goal into small, concrete, actionable steps you can help maintain motivation by feeling like you’re achieving something, even if the results aren’t happening as fast as you might like.
Choose to add something to your life, rather than taking something away.
From a psychological perspective, we don’t do so well when we feel like we are being deprived. When you switch the focus on adding something to your life, rather than removing something, you might be surprised by the results. Adding 20 minutes of meditation, yoga or walking daily can reduce sugar and caffeine consumption without any willpower at all… which is pretty amazing.
Talk about your goals.
Build in some accountability for yourself by letting people know what you’re doing. There’s a reason why weight-loss meetings are so popular. There’s nothing quite like feeling you have people in your corner, rooting for you and celebrating your victories and providing support and advice when things aren’t going so well. If there’s nothing else that we learned in 2020, it’s that we really need each other.
Ask for support.
If you’ve got a habit that you’d like to change in 2021 and you’re struggling to find the mojo to get going, know that you’re not alone. Often, there are patterns of unhelpful beliefs and thoughts that we hold about ourselves which can make it difficult to get started. Instead of seeking help and finding out that it’s pretty common, we tend to hide those more vulnerable parts of ourselves away. If you’re noticing a critical voice that’s demotivating you, or have realised that there are some beliefs that you hold that are getting in the way of you achieving what you want, let’s have a chat.