‘Tis the season of New Year’s resolutions! At this time of year lots of us are thinking about a new start for the new year. For many of us, feeling bloated and lethargic, health and fitness will be at the top of our list of things to change in the new year.
The problem with making a New Year’s resolution is that often we begin January with all the good intentions in the world… and then a few weeks later, we revert back to old ways.
How do you get a New Year’s resolution to stick?
The trick is to set a resolution that will be easier to keep. And no, I don’t mean that you should resolve to always put on shoes before you leave the house!
Here is how to set a New Year’s resolution you can stick to:
1. Set a resolution that will help you to feel better about your life.
Often we find ourselves in a position where we don’t even know where to start with a resolution, because we want to change every area of our lives! Take a look at this post from earlier this week, where I show you how to prioritise the changes you want to make, so that you can hit the big targets first.
2. Make time for the resolution you set.
Many of us will be setting a resolution to exercise more. But if your hours between waking and sleeping are already filled, where will you fit in your exercise? It’s important to think about this aspect of setting a resolution so that you can set yourself up to succeed.
Last year I decided I wanted to meditate every day in 2018 – and I knew from previous experience that my best chance of doing this would be to meditate at the same time every day, and to stick to it. So the first thing I did was to set an alarm for 5:30am, and another for 6:20am – so that whether I sat up with the first or second alarm, I would have time to meditate before I needed to get up and start my day.
3. Break your goal down into smaller chunks.
Using the exercise example again: Instead of saying you’re going to go from couch potato to exercising five times a week, you could start off by going to an exercise class every Wednesday evening. Once that has become a regular habit, you could add to this by going for a run on a Monday morning. Small, gradual changes are easier to stick with than massive, sudden changes.
4. Add an element of accountability to your New Year’s resolution.
Whatever you want to change in the new year, you will get further with it if you have an element of accountability. That could be joining a Facebook group or attending a weekly meeting (like Weight Watchers or Slimming World if that’s your thing) or posting on your own social media or just checking in with a friend once a day or week.
We often find that we’re happy to let ourselves down, but don’t like to let down other people – so if you’re joining an exercise class, arrange to meet a friend there. Or arrange to meet a friend for a run in the morning; you won’t want to leave them standing there on their own waiting for you!
5. Make your resolution measurable.
If you say I want to exercise more that could arguably be covered by walking to the shop to collect your takeaway instead of driving! Saying I want to eat more healthily is too vague and you won’t have a concrete way of knowing whether you’re succeeding.
If you’ve ever worked in an office, you’re probably familiar with the idea of “SMART” goals. Just incase you’ve missed it, here’s what that acronym means:
It’s boring but sensible to set any goal using this system so that you know whether you’re succeeding or not.
6. Make your resolution easy.
Again: I don’t mean you should resolve to always wear shoes when you go outside! I mean that if you want to begin a new habit, you need to make it really easy for yourself to do – and hard to avoid. Using the exercise example: if you want to exercise when you get up in the morning, put all of your exercise kit ready at the foot of your bed, before you go to sleep the night before. When I lived alone and wanted to go to the gym in the morning, I would switch off the heating and hot water – so that I either had to get up and go to the gym when my alarm went off, or deal with a cold shower in a cold house!
7. Use an app to track your progress.
Apps are great for keeping track of progress, but also for motivating us and for giving us a pat on the back when we do well! When I hit my step target, the Fitbit app flashes green – and there’s a graph to track my step count over the course of weeks and months. I can join a challenge with my friends who also use a Fitbit, to see who can get the most steps in a week or over a weekend.
Going back to my resolution last year to meditate every day this year, the Insight Timer app has been instrumental in helping me to achieve this – because it tracks my days, automatically posts to Twitter when I hit a milestone, and doesn’t allow me to cheat. I have to open the app and use it every day, or the counter goes back to day one.
There is a whole host of apps out there that can help you to track and succeed with your New Year’s resolutions. There’s a great list in this Forbes article.