It’s that time of the year again where for some strange reason we all think that magically, because a new year has arrived, we will suddenly change into a whole new person, just like that. Unfortunately, as we envisage that the arrival of a new year will magically provide us with all the motivation and persistence we need to be the healthier, happier us, most of the time this doesn’t happen. New Year’s resolutions often require a positive attitude and more hard work than people seem to realise. Year after year we make these New Year’s plans, and year after year we stumble and stop them after only a few months, sometimes after only a few weeks!
So how can we break this endless cycle and make sure this year’s resolutions are permanent changes that, in the long, will make us feel great? Read our top tips for successfully starting, and sticking to, your 2020 New Year’s resolution.
Pick only one thing you want to change, and focus on just that one.
While you might have a long list of potential New Year’s resolutions, it is better to pick just one and focus all of your time and energy into it, rather than trying to take on too many different objectives, feeling overwhelmed, and spreading yourself too thin trying to cover too much.
Focusing your efforts on one specific goal makes keeping a resolution much more achievable.
Make sure your New Year’s resolution is realistic so you are not setting yourself up for failure.
The final goal of a resolution can be so daunting that you don’t even start it, so why not break that goal into more manageable pieces that feel more realistic to reach.
If you want to set yourself a New Year’s resolution you have to be honest with yourself, and realistic about your capabilities. If your goal is to lose weight, it might be better to set yourself small weekly goals, for example, losing 1lb a week, rather than “I want to lose 2 stone in a month”, that way you can track your progress and address your fitness routine and meals accordingly.
If you are planning to lose weight as part of your healthy New Year’s resolution, make sure you are being realistic in the amount you aim to lose and the time frame you plan to lose it in. Consult your weight loss and fitness plans with a professional to ensure you are being safe and not putting your body under stress.
If you want to start going to the gym — fantastic! But don’t try to go from nothing to everything too quickly.
If you have never been to the gym before, don’t expect to go every night of the week, be realistic and set yourself the task of going two nights a week for an hour each time. If you like what you’re doing, and you achieve your weekly goals, you can add more days into the mix by increasing it to three times a week for two hours each time, and so on. Sometimes it is better to start small and build yourself up.
Breaking your goals down into smaller actions can work wonders, especially on days when you’re feeling unmotivated.
Remember that change takes time.
The unhealthy habits that you are trying to change probably took years to develop, and so you can’t expect to change them within such a short period.
When you decide you want to make a change, it’s difficult to be patient with yourself. It might take longer than you would like to achieve your goals, but remember it is not about how fast you can get there.
Making a change is about making permanent healthier choices and committing to change is something that you will continue to work on for a long time, sometimes for life.
Expect setbacks and work through them.
Experiencing a setback is one of the most common reasons why people give up on their New Year’s resolution.
Instead of giving up, try to view relapses as learning opportunities and push forward being more knowledgeable and prepared for the future.
To be more prepared for any setbacks, keep a diary specifically for your New Year’s resolution, that way you will document what happened before your relapse occurred and therefore what might have triggered it. By understanding the challenges you face and what makes sticking to your resolution all the more difficult, you will be better prepared to either face them or perhaps avoid them, in the future.
Reward yourself for your achievements, big and small.
Rewarding yourself doesn’t mean that you can eat an entire box of chocolates or a big bag of sugary sweets if your resolution is to eat healthier or to lose weight. It is possible to reward yourself without the need for unhealthy choices.
Treat yourself to something you enjoy that doesn’t contradict your resolution, for example, perhaps some new gym clothes, or having a friend over for a (healthy) dinner.
If you are struggling, don’t be afraid to ask for help from your friends and family.
Having a solid support system can help you stay motivated. Share your New Year’s resolution with your friends and family and ask them to help you stay on track. Share your progress and setbacks and most importantly be honest with them, and yourself.
Better yet, enlist the help of others by joining a group that shares your goal. Find someone who matches your level of commitment, and create a plan to motivate each other to thrive.
Exercising with a friend or family member can make it a more fun experience, and will increase your chances of sticking to your exercise plan by giving you more motivation and encouragement to go to the gym if you have already made a plan with someone.
Skipping out, then, doesn’t mean being lazy and avoiding the wet weather — it means disrupting someone else’s routine.
Keep reminding yourself of why you set out to achieve your New Year’s resolution in the first place and try to keep a positive mindset.
Making permanent changes in your life takes a lot of hard work, and some days can be harder than others. By focusing on the negatives you will only discourage yourself, which will most likely result in you giving up completely.
Instead of sitting at work thinking about how tired you feel and how the gym is going to make you even more exhausted, or perhaps it’s raining outside and you don’t want to go for the scheduled run, try to remember all the positive outcomes.
Believe in yourself and your goal and remind yourself of the benefits and positive impact it will have on your life. Focusing on the positives will help you stick to your new year’s resolution and make it happen.