It’s nearing the end of 2019 and it’s the time of year where everyone is thinking about the year ahead. Making New Year’s resolutions are an old tradition, however many of us struggle to keep them for 365 days!
Here are our top tips for making New Year's resolutions that turn out to be successful, and how to make them stick.
Make specific goals
If you set big goals that are vague, they won’t last because they’re just too big! To achieve your goals, they have to be specific, and measurable. Break your big goals down to something more specific, which will be easier to stick to and track.
Make realistic goals
Be honest with yourself about what you can achieve. You need to be able to realistically meet your resolutions. If you overreach about the type of goal that works for you, you’ll miss your mark and it will be really demotivating! So think about what you can possibly achieve, to stay on track.
Don’t use ‘musts’
Resolutions that are strict and phrases such as ‘I must’ or “I have to’ never tend to stick. This is because our instinct is to rebel against directives like this. Try and set intentions, like an aim that you’re moving towards. Don’t put any rules or conditions on this, such as dates or points by which you want to achieve it. This takes the pressure off and lets you go at your own pace.
Ask yourself why
Ask yourself why you want what you’re aiming for in life - dig really deep and figure out what is motivating you. When you can identify the why, and stay connected to it, it’s easier to create more meaningful New Year's resolutions that are achievable, and that also bring happiness into your life.
Don’t let yourself set you back
If you feel deep down like you can’t accomplish your goals, you might start to set yourself back. The biggest hurdle with New Year's resolutions is the mindset that setting them can undo years of behavioural habits and thoughts. You’ll see the biggest changes if you remove negative thoughts that say you can't achieve your goals, and remove negative thought patterns around yourself. You can do this by learning to understand how negative thoughts can affect your behaviours. Try to keep a journal of both positive and negative thoughts throughout the day, along with the behaviours you had afterwards. Then, replace your negative thoughts with positive ones.
Align your goals with your values
It’s easier to keep New Year's resolutions that are in line with your personal values and beliefs. If you don’t know them, try to identify your key core values, and create a mission statement for how you want to move forward in your life. You can use this as a base for your New Year's resolutions.
Don’t deny yourself
Don’t use your New Year's resolutions as a way to deprive yourself from something, restrict, or punish yourself. A great example of this is the difficult diets and intense workouts people pick up on January 1st - which is the opposite way to create a long-lasting habit. Don’t restrict yourself and deny yourself the things you’re used to, and instead think of ways to meet the goals that feel good to you, to reach your goals in a positive and supportive way.
Make smaller goals
An easy way to set reachable goals is to break them up into ‘mini’ goals. You can do this by thinking of each step you need to achieve your goal, and setting these steps as individual goals. Make sure they’re doable and reasonable and check in with yourself along the way. Look at what went right at each step and what went wrong, celebrate your successes and learn from your mistakes.
Don’t repeat your goals
An easy way to stick to your New Year's resolutions is not to make them the same every year. If you’ve already tried and failed, your self esteem will be low and you’ll expect to fail before you’ve already started. If you do want to try for a goal you’ve already attempted, take some time to think about your results last time, and what was and wasn’t effective. Change your approach, and you may change your results.
Have a support system
Having someone to keep you in check with your New Year's resolutions really works. A buddy system will help you to stay motivated, so explain your goals to everyone in your life, and ask them for help! They will be able to help you achieve your goals and keep you on track.
During the start of the year, you’ll probably feel motivated and confident to stick to your New Year's resolutions, because it’s still early days and the excitement about meeting your goal is still there. As time goes on, and you face temptation and discomfort, it will be harder to stick to your New Year's resolutions. Your motivation will start to waver - and at these times it's important to remember the ‘why’ behind your resolution, to remotivate yourself and keep going.
By Amy Cavill
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