It’s January 1st, traditionally the time of year when we take stock of our lives and think about the changes we’d like to make over the next year. From losing weight to finding love, after the excesses of New Year’s Eve we all like to dream big, but often our resolutions fail before January even ends.
So how can you give yourself the best chance of sticking with your New Year’s resolutions?
A lot of people, myself included, are guilty of making a resolution out of habit or expectation, without the intention to really commit to it. If you’re serious about making a change to your life, however big or small, but you need some help getting started, try the tips below.
- Be specific. A lot of resolutions fail because the person is too general in their desires. Common goals are to ‘lose weight’ or ‘get fit’, but with no specific target to aim for it can be easy to lose motivation. Try to give yourself a clear goal when setting your resolutions, for example to lose two stones or run the London marathon. Having a firm target means that you can plan the best way to achieve it using small, manageable steps. You’re less likely to give up if you can measure your success and see that you’re on course.
- Be realistic. Choose something that is achievable. You might dream about being a professional actor, but you’re likely to be disappointed if you promise yourself you’ll be world famous by the end of the year. A better resolution would be to take an acting class or audition for a particular role.
- Don’t overstretch yourself. A lot of people see New Year as a chance to overhaul their lives and change everything they’re unhappy with, which might be many things. You have a better chance of success if you focus on a small number of changes initially so that you can give them your full attention.
- Think about the long-term. If you’re unhappy at work, your initial resolution might be to find a new job. This can help in the short-term, but it’s worth examining the underlying reasons for your unhappiness. If you dislike your job because you don’t enjoy working for other people or you feel like you are pursuing a career path that is wrong for you, simply finding a replacement job is unlikely to make you happy. Instead, think about where you would like to be five or ten years from now. A more helpful resolution might be to retrain for another profession, or to develop the skills you need to start your own business.
- Ask for help if you need it. There’s no shame in struggling to make changes to your life. Often trying to stick to a resolution in isolation can be difficult because you get caught up in your own failures and lose motivation. Joining a group like Weight Watchers might be the push you need to lose weight, or deciding to work out regularly with a friend could motivate you both to commit to an exercise regime that may have been hard to stick to alone.
- Make resolutions that complement each other. If you want to focus on several New Year’s resolutions and stick to them all, it helps if they work well together, for example losing weight and exercising more are natural companions.
I know that this year I have quite a few goals I would like to achieve, both professional and personal, so I’ll be working hard at following my own advice!
If you’re making a New Year’s resolution today, good luck and all the best for 2013!