On 1 January across the world, millions of us make lofty promises to ourselves. We’ll get healthy, go to gym, drink less wine and eat more greens. We plan to be perfect.
By February, most resolutions are gathering dust as we shake off the holidays and wrestle with the reality of work, friendship, parenthood and bills. It doesn’t happen to me so much these days because I have the skills to coach myself out of it but is this your reality? Why can’t you follow through?
According to psychologists, even though you might want fast results, you procrastinate. Sustained effort is key to success, so by wanting too much and therefore spreading yourself too thin, you end up at the starting line, feeling defeated already (and even less inclined to begin all over again if you need to).
Resolutions are a healthy way to reboot your life – but you need to keep them real.
The secret is to fashion long-term, reachable goals that contribute towards what everybody wants, in the end: happiness. Here’s how:
Your attitude determines your altitude. The way you get there is more important than the goal. It’s no use mentally committing to a 10-mile run three times a week if you’re going to think about it, rather than do it. Instead, stop plotting and start doing: get up, put on your trainers and just exit the front door. Less detail, more action.
Baby steps. Taking one step forward is infinitely better than standing still. If your guest room looks shabby, clear out the clutter, as a start. You might dream of a décor overhaul this year, but why wait until you have enough money and time? Those crusty magazines and broken children’s toys aren’t going to move themselves.
Focus on pleasure, not pain. Diets are a common New Year goal – but why turn your meal times into a prison sentence? Sustainable, health-boosting plans, such as the Low GL way of eating, are fun, affordable and delicious. Many people associate ‘eating healthily’ with deprivation, rather than delight. Turn those thoughts around – each healthy bite you’re choosing is a gift to yourself.
If it ain’t broke…why fix it? Perhaps you’re feeling content with life ‘as is’ right now, so don’t fall into the trap of confusing ‘wants’ with ‘needs’. Modern society is aspirational – everything must be bigger and better. Sometimes, though, things are lovely just as they are. That’s where gratitude comes in. Be grateful for the most insignificant bits of your life. Each act or thought of gratitude eventually fills your happiness tank. Swap bad habits for good ones. You might not want to give up your Wednesday croissant and hot chocolate fix, but you can. Just replace it with an a healthier, alternative ‘treat’. Many of my clients say swapping out their tea and biscuits for two squares of 75% dark chocolate and a handful of raw cashew nuts was a lot easier than expected. Choose your habits wisely – don’t allow them to choose you.
Tell a friend. Voicing the possibility for change makes it more likely to happen. If you can rope a friend into keeping you accountable, so much the better. Accountability is part of the role of a health coach; keeping you in action, motivated and moving towards whatever it is that you want for yourself and your life. Real goals aren’t like wishing on stars – you don’t have to keep them a secret. And having a team behind you makes winning that much easier.
Ignore the news. While keeping abreast of current affairs is important to most, there’s no need to depress yourself. Being wired to the world is addictive. You’re far more inclined to feel out of control, unhappy and blue if you’re constantly bombarded with bad news. Have an information-free day a week (and yes, that includes browsing Facebook) will help you feel more spiritually rested.
Record it. Seeing your resolutions in black and white increases your chances of sticking to them. Have them ‘in your face’, where you can read them daily. Don’t be fanciful – be practical. The fridge, your daily diary or the car are great spots.
Respect yourself. The slightest improvement is worth a cheer. Be proud of and acknowledge what you’ve achieved, no matter how small. Drinking three extra glasses of water a day, or de-cluttering a corner of the living room, are as much steps in the right direction as clinching a directorship at work.
Explore, expand, experiment. Perhaps you have no idea where you’re headed. That’s okay. Treat the New Year as a chance to work out what makes you happy – and how to get there. This might be a good time to bring out the bucket list and tick something off. You never know what’s out there (and inside you) until you give it a go!
If you’ve decided to make 2019 the year you’ll fix those niggling health issues or make a commitment to losing weight, then why not book in for a free introductory chat and begin that journey to prioritise your well-being and take control of your health