Whether it be a commitment to hit the gym every week, dry January, overcome a phobia or just loose a couple of pounds, it’s easy for those New Year’s Resolutions to become a distant memory isn’t it? So have you forgotten all about yours yet? Has it been abandoned at the roadside ready to pick up again next January? The question is – Why do we find them so difficult to keep going beyond the first few weeks? With recent research suggesting that only 8% of people actually sticking to their New Year’s Resolutions, maybe we need to dig a little deeper to find out where it all goes downhill…..
Firstly, why do we do it to ourselves? What is it about January that makes everyone feel like that HAVE to put pressure on ourselves to achieve something that we have not thought about for the whole of the previous year? Okay there may have been that ‘beach body’ pledge in the summer and the ‘sober for October’ to try again after the first failed attempt, but a huge 63% of people in the UK make resolutions only to break them a few weeks later! Why!? WHY!?
Well we are culturally led to believe that a New Year can mean a new you! Maybe people have encouraged you to think about the new you for the new year? Maybe you have asked other people how they plan to make themselves better?
So why is this a problem?
Firstly it is a problem because you already have the unhelpful belief that upon waking on New Year’s day you are going to have a miraculous new outlook on the whole year ahead! You have hopes and expectations of yourself that are likely to be unrealistic! But although you start out at a good pace, ready for the long haul, there is already a nagging doubt tutting at you from the back of your mind. After all, you already know that it’s going to be difficult. You already know that you failed last year and forgot all about it. You already know that most other people failed too. And if you know all of these things…… how can you possibly expect to make it this time? You are already worrying and planning all the ways that it is going to go wrong and the more you have these unhelpful thoughts, the more likely they are to come true.
Herein lies our second problem. You already have a negative belief about yourself. Your plan to make you a better version of you indicates that there is something that is not making you the perfect person you believe you SHOULD be! I am mean what exactly so bad about the person we were last year that means we need a sudden overhaul? You are already starting your New Year’s Resolution with negative thoughts about yourself and the task ahead. So how do the small % actually achieve their goals? …. Simple – they don’t start out with a negative thought about themselves. They have a plan, they know that it is achievable and do not see it as unattainable. They don’t set their goals as a need to improve – I’m too fat so I’ll eat healthily. I’m unfit so I’ll train to run a marathon…. they set goals that they know they can achieve and they approach it with a sense of enthusiasm and realism!
So if you have already let your resolution slip you have a choice. You can….
- Give it up as a bad job and try again next year.
- You can decide it was a stupid idea and not make a New Year’s Resolution in future.
- You can set yourself a new goal that is achievable and realistic and not about giving last year’s you a hard time.
So, if you do decide to set yourself a goal and you have picked something that you can do here are some tips that will help you to make a success of it moving forward…..
Realise that you have not failed but actually that you had picked something that was built on a unhelpful belief about yourself. Pick another goal and another reason for doing it. Start again with a fresh outlook that you KNOW that you can achieve it.
Make a plan
Take some time to think about HOW you are going to achieve your goal. Be realistic. What steps are you going to take? Make sure that you are challenging yourself but not beyond your capability. Think of it as laying a path towards your goal. You are unlikely to be able to achieve your goal in a week, so how are you going to build up your journey? Consider making a plan for blips too, life doesn’t always go smoothly so make sure that you are prepared for a glitch and that you can get back on track afterwards rather than leave your plan behind.
Give yourself praise.
We are so used to beating ourselves up and berating ourselves for our failures that we forget to celebrate our successes. You don’t need to wait until you achieve your goal to celebrate – make sure that you acknowledge and process your achievements along the way no matter how big or small. All of your success are a step in the right direction – why not aim to write down 10 small achievements towards your goal over the course of each week and imagine how you would react to a friend that had done these things well. Be kind to yourself and enjoy the process – this is a huge key to success!
I would wish you good luck with your new goal, but lets face it, luck has got nothing to do with it. It is down to you! And you can smash it if you do it right.