We’ll stop wasting money on stuff we don’t need, stop dwelling on our inadequacies and finally do those things we always dreamed of doing.
Of course, a few days after that declaration of a ‘new me’, that initial confidence can begin to waiver. We start to realise that January is just like every other month, only with more debt and a slightly rounder middle.
With newspapers this week claiming that only one in 11 of us keep to our New Year resolutions, just what does it take to be that smug ‘one’ that actually manages to stick to their promises?
Here are some tips for making resolutions you can keep…
1. Stick to one thing
It’s all well and good making a three-page list of things you need to improve on in life, but can you really stick to that many resolutions? Change takes effort, patience and concentration. For this reason it’s a good idea to choose just one to focus on. What’s having the biggest impact on your happiness, health and wellbeing? Is it your use of addictive technology – video games, television, Facebook? Is it your love for the pub on a Friday night and your inability to just have one drink? Or is it your habit of chasing after people who are clearly not right for you? It could be all of these things and more but, according to research by psychologist and author BJ Fogg, you’re more likely to make real improvements if you focus your energies on just one.
2. Take it slow
You might be motivated and raring to go with your resolutions on January 1, but according to Leo Babauta, author of ‘The Power of Less’, the key to sustainable change is slow change. If your resolution is weight loss and you’re used to spending most of your free time on the sofa, don’t suddenly promise to run three miles before work every morning. Chances are, you’ll try it once and swear never to attempt it again. Be nice to yourself and don’t put yourself off before you’ve really begun. Instead, do 10 minutes of exercise a day and work up. Noticing small improvements will make you feel good and help you to keep going when everyone else has long given up.
3. Focus on positives
Scientists from a University in the Netherlands go by the mantra ‘if you resolve to stop eating cake, you will eat more cake.’ According to their research, people who focus on negatives like this are more likely to fail. This is called ‘behavioural ironic rebound’. You should try to focus on something you will start to do, rather than something you will stop doing e.g. eat more fruit and vegetables. If you eat more fruit and vegetables, you will be less hungry and therefore less likely to eat unhealthy food, making weight loss a side-effect of your resolution.
4. Programme yourself
Life coaches use specialist techniques to ‘programme’ their clients to think in new ways. (Find out more about this over at our NLP page). You can easily learn to programme your own brain by using ‘if/then patterns’. Professor Mark Conner of the University of Leeds advises us to: “Set up cues that prompt your planned behaviour.” For example, tell yourself that if you get hunger pangs before lunch, you will eat an orange and not a chocolate bar. If you have pre-planned responses to certain behaviours, you can learn to control your impulses, which tend to lie at the root of most bad habits.
5. Get help
Don’t keep your resolutions to yourself. Find people to support you through them. Publish a post on Facebook, write a blog, join a forum. According to research by Prof Conner, people who make resolutions with the help of others are more successful than people who go it alone.
Getting a life coach on board could help you to stick to your New Year resolutions. To find out how, simply head over to our FAQs page.
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