New Year’s Resolutions

We’re a few days into the New Year now, and if you haven’t broken your New Year’s resolutions yet, statistically you are about to. That can be depressing, but don’t panic, all hope is not lost.

The most important point about resolutions isn’t how to keep them, but how to revise them once you’ve failed. If you’ve resolved to exercise more this year, instead of limiting the definition to going to the gym, just redefine exercise as, anything that gets your heart-rate up, like waking up late for work, taking a pregnancy test, or imminent redundancy.

It takes planning to keep your resolutions, but if it’s a worthwhile decision, it’ll be worth the effort. Here’s how:

Make it something you really want

Don’t make resolutions that you “should” want or what other people tell you to want. It has to fit with your own values, save them for something really meaningful. Then break your plan into smaller steps, it will then feel less like a mountain to climb, and become more measureable

Limit your list to a number you can handle

It’s probably best to make only resolutions that you intend to keep, that way, you’re focusing your efforts on the goals you truly want, if you try to concentrate on changing just one aspect of your life, your chances of success will be even greater.

Change your habits

One reason that resolutions fail is people don’t change the habits that sabotage them; one potent approach is to realize that all you ever have is the present moment. So ask what you can do now that will get you closer to your goal, it could mean trade-offs such as sacrificing an hour of chilling time for your new target.

Writing and Visualizing

These are effective tools for fulfilling your aims, because they fix them firmly in the subconscious, write down your objectives, and put them in a prominent place where you’ll view them frequently.

To tell or not to tell?

Having someone hold you accountable can be a powerful tool, if you have one or two people in your life who will act as mentors or coaches, you’ll definitely get more support and have less chance to fail.

Avoid temptation

Miss out the confectionery and booze aisles at the supermarket; choose a route home that doesn’t go past the pub, or the bakery, and so on. There is evidence this kind of strategic approach is more effective than relying on willpower alone.

If you fall off the wagon, jump back on

Many people fall into the trap of believing that if they stumble, they should give up. The truth is you don’t have to wait for next year or for some magic moment. Instead, realize that slipping is part of the process.

Record it

Keep a journal of your success, handwritten, or even create a spreadsheet, as well as regularly imagining how your life will change once you’ve reached each step. Don’t forget to reward yourself whenever you reach a new level, this helps to increase your sense of achievement.

A word on self-control

There’s some evidence that self-control is a limited resource the more you use up, the less you have available. Several things seem to help though, one positive method involves boosting your mood by watching a funny video, and exposure to nature also helps restore the depletion.

Eating sweet foods helps too, though that can be a bugger if you’re trying to get hold of a tendency of eating too much junk, especially since it turns out artificial sweeteners don’t help one bit.

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