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It’s almost the start of a brand new year, and many of us try to mark the milestone by getting rid of our bad habits or starting a new challenge. But although setting goals is a positive thing, many struggle to stick to their resolutions for long after the Christmas period – there is a reason why gym memberships peak in January, only for most of the new members to have disappeared by February! It can even seem like resolutions just don’t work sometimes. Actually, it could be your approach that is wrong, even when your intentions are good. Setting goals for the coming year is a positive process, and totally doable as long as you choose the right ones, and go about actioning them the right way.
The Problem Of Change
Human beings are habit-forming creatures by nature, and we’re innately programmed to mistrust change. Most of us want to improve ourselves and our lives but we fail to take into account how to stay motivated, the importance of strong social support and the right environment to help us make these changes. When things become difficult then, we slip back into the comfort zone of our previous behaviour. Making a lasting change depends on knowing what barriers are likely to occur and deciding how you will deal with them before it happens. For example, if your goal is to eat cleaner, It could be as simple as prepping some healthy snacks and taking them with you so you don’t get the urge to run to the vending machine when hunger hits.
Shrinking Your Resolutions
Although it’s true that you should aim high, dream big and all those other pretty text posts you see on your Insta feed, sometimes our aspirations are just too large to manage comfortably. If you’re aiming to save money, get a promotion at work and drop several dress sizes, although it’s possible it’s not very probable that you will achieve all that at once. You could be setting yourself up for failure. Success starts with prioritisation – pick one goal that is most important to you. Think clearly about how realistic it is – how much time and commitment does it require, and is that realistic in your life? What changes might be required to your schedule? How can you fit in that yoga session or those spanish classes? If you’re trying to stop a negative behaviour like overeating or smoking, it’s a much more effective strategy to try cutting down amounts rather than stopping completely right away. This gives you a chance to adjust gradually to the changes needed.
Make Your Goals Precise
The next strategy that will help you achieve your 2019 resolutions is making your goals much more precise. Something like ‘save more money to go travelling’ is a great aim to have, but it’s too vague to be effective for most people. You need to have achievable parameters in place, or your best intentions may get lost. Instead set a monetary amount and a way to do it – like ‘I’m going to save £30 this month by making lunch at home rather than buying it on the way to work’. Smaller, more specific goals are easier to stay focused on and keep you motivated as you can feel successful earlier on in the process.
Having an idea of what you want to achieve in your head is one thing, but another key to success is by making yourself accountable. You need to have someone to answer to for your progress. For example, if you want to be able to run 5k, why not sign up for something like Race For Life, where you can raise funds for charity at the same time? Not only does this give you a clear focus to train for, but through letting others know your intention, there’s a positive pressure to see it through. You also need to reinforce your intentions to yourself. Do this by writing down what you want to achieve – on Post It notes on the fridge or the bathroom mirror or in a diary or even a blog post. Make sure to update these recordings when you make progress – this kind of reflection helps you to celebrate success, identify patterns of behaviour and see where you may be sabotaging your own chances. You could also enlist someone with the same resolution to buddy up with – be it joining the local beginners running club or starting a book club, or simply recruiting your best friend to keep you on track.
Your goals are fully achievable if you plan them out right and get the correct support – 2019 could be your year of change!