How many times have you started out the new year with the very best of intentions and then weeks (or even days) later, you were back to those unhealthy habits and poor lifestyle choices?
We understand — hell, we’ve been there. So here are some ideas for sticking it out and finally achieving resolution success in 2015.
1. Change ‘resolutions’ to another word or phrase that inspires you.
‘Resolutions’ is a loaded word. It probably conjures up feelings of failure and disappointment and that’s not a great way to start the year. If the word holds a lifetime of unhappy memories and makes you feel like a fraud or hypocrite, it’s time to ditch the resolutions and start using a different word.
We like things to be fun and positive so why not choose a word or phrase that sounds cheeky, cool and conversational? Consider chatting about your 2015 goals and referring to your dreams, projects or achievements, rather than resolutions. Not only would it be sure to pique interest, it has a lot less emotional baggage attached to it, so you’re starting with a fresh slate.
2. Start small, with attainable goals broken down into bite-sized chunks.
The absolute easiest way to make massive changes is by making small changes, moment by moment by moment. And yes, sometimes that means your progress feels very slow. But it is so much better than sprinting out the gates and then pulling a hammy at the start of the race. Embrace patience, stop striving to get everywhere at breakneck speed, slow it all right down, and strangely enough, everything will start happening so much faster than you expect.
Make the changes to your lifestyle so tiny that you don’t even notice them, and you won’t find it hard to continue them as it hasn’t impacted your way of being. Swap foods rather than restricting; add more positive activities to your life rather than trying to avoid bad behaviours. Any type of restriction will just make you want it more, and then you’re relying on discipline and restraint rather than tapping into the power of habitual ways of doing. Consistency is the key. Do it often enough and you won’t even need to think about it anymore.
3. Reflect daily on each step towards progress, no matter how insignificant it may feel.
Acknowledge any and all growth, no matter how silly it might seem. Didn’t eat that last bite of that unhealthy meal? Yes! This is great news. Went for a five minute walk instead of the epic running session you planned in your head? Congratulate yourself on leaving the house at all. Tidied your desk on Thursday rather than starting the week with a clean desk? No problems, it will make the start of your next week so much more effective and efficient and thus deserves a pat on the back.
If you can’t read any of these without eye rolling or scoffing, remember that there are things in your own life that you’re not doing and that every time you don’t, your self-talk turns negative and you get further and further away from positive changes. Embrace all the micro movements towards your goals, no matter how ridiculous it feels. You don’t need to proclaim it to the world each time you don’t finish the entire packet of biscuits; just make a note to yourself and then put in place an action that will make it easier and easier to start saying no to biscuits and yes to something healthier.
4. Keep the number of items short and sweet, no more than 10.
Having many items on your 2015 list may make you feel like you’re going to have a rockstar of a year, but psychologically it will probably have more of a negative effect. When you look at your exhaustingly long list of goals you want to accomplish, you might feel overwhelmed and then slip into a state of avoidance. But if you look at your short sassy list of 10 goals or less and you’ve got an action plan set up for each, then things start to feel very very achievable.
Once you start actually ticking things off this list, you’ll start to feel like a goals ninja, smashing through old habits and old ways of thinking left, right and centre.
5. Plan, take action, stay focused and then let it go.
Most people fail not because they don’t have big enough dreams, or enough support, or are lacking in talent or skills. Most people fail because they don’t have a PLAN. For every goal you want to achieve in 2015, for every negative habit and for every aspect of your life you want to change, you must have a plan. Break each goal/habit down into bite-sized steps and then get those into your calendar and tell your family and friends.
Once it’s out in the real world, you will feel more accountable and more likely to stick to your word (no one likes to feel like they lied to their friends and didn’t do what they said they were going to do). Once you’ve made a plan, just start taking action every day, no matter how small. Then review your progress, congratulate yourself, focus on the next step and then breathe and let it all go. If you start to obsess over every little thing, you will not only drive yourself nuts, you’ll probably make everyone around you run for the hills.
6. Choose some early fitness goals that will help you stay on track.
This is something to seriously consider implementing during the hardest part — those first 3-4 weeks. Signing up to take part in an event like a marathon or bootcamp or body makeover challenge is a great way to be surrounded by people with similar goals and the support and encouragement will make a huge difference.
For runners, the Hans Resolution Run is not only aptly named, it is perfectly placed to happen in the second week of January (a notorious time for most people to start failing at their new resolutions). You can start training now, and use the run as a kickstart to the year. Get over your fear of not being ready or needing to be professionally fit and just participate. Plus it’s for a good cause and associated with a great organisation — Active8Change. All the details can be found here.
7. Focus on the feeling, not the actions.
Humans are motivated by their emotions, and emotions are powerful, so tap into them ASAP to get to your dreams so much faster. Constantly be asking yourself this question — ‘How would I feel if all my dreams came true?’ Then dwell on that glorious feeling and it will start to actually feel possible. Create dream lists and vision boards as these tools help create clarity around the goals, both visually and emotionally.
Once you feel connected to a goal, and take ownership of it, you subconsciously start to take actions that will help rather than hinder your progress. If someone told you that they expected you to achieve something, you would take different actions than if someone said it wasn’t possible. Belief will move mountains, your own personal mountains especially. So make sure you tap into the well of feelings inside and start to feel excited, confident and expectant. And watch the goals get ticked off on the list.
8. Keep it positive. List your do’s, not your don’ts.
Language is important so make your list full of what you WILL do, rather than what you WON’T. Write ‘I will choose better, more nutritious, healthier lunches this year at work’, rather than ‘I won’t eat crap food at lunchtime and I won’t snack on biscuits in the tea room’. Once you’ve structured your goals in this way, your brain will start to hear only the positive choices and your actions will start to reflect this.
When you hear statements in the negative, there is often an internal resistance that happens as generally we all dislike being told what to do, especially if it sounds like a command. So make it fun, make it like a game, make the challenges feel light-hearted rather than like homework and you’ll find you’ll have a greater chance of kicking that goal.
But most importantly, be kind to yourself and respect who you are. Yes, we can all be better, stronger, fitter, wealthier, smarter, more successful etc — but until you can appreciate where you are right now, you won’t be able to appreciate where you get to in the future.
2015 could be the best year of your life, if you decide it will be.