3, 2, 1... Reset
If like most people, you have started the year excited, with lots of plans in mind and have enthusiastically thrown yourself into it, you may experience a dip by the second half of January. The prospect of the New Year and a new start gets us excited. We put together extensive lists of things we want to do, habits we would like to change and goals we want to achieve. We start going to the gym, make smoothies from scratch and think about a career change only to feel overwhelmed a few weeks later. We run out of steam and our intentions start to, well, wobble. I call it the January dip.
When the New Year honeymoon is wearing off, the voices of our inner critics are getting louder. Some common phases we typically say are:
- Why can I never stick to it?
- I knew this would happen…
- I am so bad at keeping my resolutions.
- I might as well just give up.
- I am so annoyed with myself.
- Oh, what the heck, I’ll eat that brownie!
The thing is, change takes time. The old you needs time to adjust to all the changes the new you has in mind for it. You’ve only lived your whole life to be the person you are today. Change won’t happen overnight. With a bit of tweaking, you can get back on track and set yourself up for success this year.
Five tips to help you reset
1. Be gentle with yourself
When we don’t achieve something we set out to, we tend to feel guilty and like a failure. Be gentle and encouraging with yourself instead of berating yourself. Imagine you were a parent to a child, would you talk to them like you do to yourself? You would probably motivate, love them for whom they are and encourage them to learn from their experience. You would help and support them along the way. Do the same for yourself!
2. Start small.
It may feel counterintuitive but best results are achieved in baby steps. You need to build your grit and motivational stamina by starting small. Doing something for as little as 5-10 minutes for your goal each day initially is more sustainable than tackling big hurdles at once. That way you are likely to feel burnt out and demotivated soon. A great resource I recommend is Tiny Habits by BJ Foggs - a free mini online course that teaches you how to create habits in a fun and sustainable way. Give it a go! Once you have built momentum, you can increase the time you are working on your goals or add more.
3. Be specific, give it structure
A common mistake, when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, is terminal vagueness, i.e. not being specific. Becoming fitter or becoming more confident is not a goal. What specifically does this look and feel like to you? What exactly would you like to have accomplished by 31 December 2019?
If you have that vision nailed, you can work backwards from there. What will you actually need to do in order to accomplish your goal? Which resources will you need? Time, money, knowledge, support?
Now create some milestones you would like to acknowledge along the way, What targets would you like to have achieved and by when? And let’s not forget the fun; how would you like to celebrate or perhaps reward yourself having reached a milestone?
If you are a creative soul or the touchy-feely type (No judgment, I am one myself!) you may squirm when you read this, but I encourage you to give it a try. Having a structure and vision to lean on may actually help you to do your best work. Bring your own flavour to it, infuse your goals with things that light you up - own them.
4. Review and adjust where necessary
It’s totally okay to get a little carried away with your new year’s resolutions and taking on more than you can chew. Where most people go wrong is that they give up too soon. The important thing is, that you become an excellent self-observer and find out what is working for you, what isn’t and why? Review, reflect, adjust. See how it sits with your heart. Sometimes our heads go into overdrive, but our hearts have a different agenda.
5. If life gets in the way, pick up yourself up and get back on track
Sometimes we get thrown a curveball. You may experience a personal setback, health issues or a have a loved one who is poorly. Likewise, you may get overly busy at work, or just simply distracted. Life happens, all the time! If you find yourself off track, remember that these setbacks are just bumps in the road, they are not the end! Your vision is still the same, but you might need to adjust your plan or move the deadline if necessary. Be kind to yourself, loosen the pressure and pick up where you left off, even if its months later.