This year will be different… really
Now that we are half-way through the first month of 2017, it’s time to do a quick check-up on our New Year’s Resolutions. How many of us are still sticking to “Go to bed early” and “Gym session after the school run”? If you find yourself slowly falling behind your #goals, here’re some advice on how make your New Year’s Resolutions stick…
1. Avoid making 100 percent resolutions
Absolute goals like “I’m going to quit eating all sweets” or “I’ll never use my credit card again” set you up to try to get around your own overtly strict rules. You will find yourself feeling frustrated easily when you couldn’t stick to them. You might even revert back to the bad habits you wanted to get rid of (and make it double) because you put so much pressure on your willpower. Try something like “I’ll only eat sweets at a fancy restaurant/ special occasions.”
2. Be specific & one thing at a time
We all have a list of New Year’s Resolutions. We want to believe that the beginning of the year is the perfect time to reassess everything in our lives. However, most resolutions actually require many behavioural changes, which means being focused is key. Start with a change that is relatively easy to achieve. Once you’re successful with the first change, you can graduate to another change. The satisfaction of being able to accomplish each small goals will make it easier for you to keep moving. Also, be specific when setting up your goals. “Lose 10 pounds” might sound specific but it’s less likely to work than behavioural goals like “Hit the gym 3 times a week”.
3. Find out what works for YOU
It’s easy to join a gym membership, going is another story. Many people prefer jogging in the park over running on the treadmill. Really consider what works for you – find a type of exercise that you enjoy doing, and is convenient to you. If you wanna turn a behavioural change into a habit, you need to like it first.
4. Be Mindful
If you’re trying get rid of a bad habit this year, don’t force yourself to stop doing it straight away. Judson Brewer, a psychiatrist at University of Massachusetts Medical School, proposed in his TED Talk that the key to breaking a bad habit is mindfulness – that means focusing on how the habit really makes you feel.
5. Remind yourself how awesome you are
Minor missteps when reaching your goals are completely OK. Just take a deep breath. Don’t blame yourself, and certainly don’t give up simply because you ate a brownie, or skipped the gym because you were busy. Instead, remind yourself how much you’ve accomplished in the past – things that required major self-discipline (remember that time when you got out of bed when you didn’t want to?). Make note of the triggers that caused the setback and get back on track.
6. Find a buddy
Let’s face it – it’s not easy to achieve the #goals on our own. So grab a friend and recruit them to be your New Year’s Resolution buddy. There’s something about feeling accountable to a friend that makes you more likely to succeed in your goals. Text your buddy an update every time you make a progress or trip up and miss your goal. Ask them to check up on your new year’s resolution once in awhile. You’d be surprised how effective this could be.
Put down your New Year’s Resolution on paper, don’t just make mental vows. Post your goals in places where you’ll see them often. Remember that moment when you make a resolution? You’ll want to be able to recapture the intensity of that moment again and again, and you’ll be less likely to slack off with constant reminders.
8. The daily question exercise
This exercise is used by psychologist, executive coach, and author Marshall Goldsmith. Start an Excel spreadsheet with a series of questions about your New Year’s Resolutions (e.g. “Did I go to work on time today?”). Each of them is answered with a yes/no or a number. Create seven boxes across, one for each day of the week. Score yourself on a scale of 1-10 and compare today’s effort with previous days. Create a report card by the end of the week. If you’re not ready to take your New Year’s Resolutions that seriously (well, are we ever ready?), simply ask yourself whether you’re working towards your goals on a daily basis.
9. Talk about it
Tell your family and friends what you want to achieve this year. Consider joining a support group, like a workout class at the gym or a group of coworkers quitting smoking. The more you share your struggles and successes, the less intimidating it is to reach your goals.
10. Keep track of your progress
This is especially helpful to resolutions related to saving money and losing weight. There are many phone apps out there that could help you track your calories intake and how much money you spend on a daily basis. It’s easier to make adjustments when you have numbers in hand and also allows you to set your own targets based on your behaviours.