5 Tools for How to Keep your New Year's Resolutions
A New Year is always a chance for a fresh start and an opportunity to begin again and create your own blank canvas to fill with fresh ideas. Not feeling quite inspired yet? Well are you looking to get a new job this year? To lose weight? Move to a new area? Get Married? Earn more money? Quit smoking? Learn an instrument? Or join a gym? Whatever your goals, you can achieve them in 2015 with will power and determination! The only thing standing in your way is yourself. We are our own worst enemies sometimes, but we can be our own champions too.
Many articles on New Year’s Resolutions may be vague and watered down, saying things such as ‘join a gym’ or ‘lose weight’ but where are the actual tools to achieve such things? How does one go from ‘idea’ to ‘implementation?’ Well right now, in this article, I will guide you through that very concept and provide you with structured tools to actually create changes in your life. So keep reading and together we’ll not only make those New Year’s resolutions, we’ll learn how to actually keep them!
1. Really Want it!
Focus is Key
You are most likely to succeed with any New Year’s Resolutions if you can limit yourself to one specific change or adjustment. If you have two or three ideas at the moment, then that is also okay. But try to narrow it down and keep it under five resolutions that you will actually attempt to implement.
When you focus in like this in a one-track-minded manner, the change is more likely to enter into your life and to be able to progress from being an enthusiastic ‘idea for change’, to an actual ‘lifestyle shift’ and a change in the balance of how you actually conduct your life each and every day. So you do need to be realistic and honest with yourself, as this is going to be the key for achieving success with your goals.
Got a pen and paper? Great, now write down a list of your potential ideas for New Year’s Resolutions. Keep this list under ten ideas if you can, and really think about it. Pause to reflect and take your time.
Got them? Excellent, now rank your resolutions in numerical order of preference, starting with the ones you would actually like to achieve most. Have you chosen your top three ideas? What’s your number one resolution? Now say it out loud a few times starting; “This year I am going to (insert your resolution), and I can achieve this”. Repeat this phrase a few more times, even in front of a mirror if it helps.
Feeling fired up yet to get started? If you have actually followed this exercise then you should be! Great! Let’s move on to start making your resolution/s a reality...
2. Break it Down!
Each Day, One Change
Okay, so as an example, this year you may say ‘I want to climb Mount Everest’. And that is an amazing goal, but being realistic (as we have learnt in tip number 1), shows us that actually achieving a goal like that is huge! And the same would go for say, losing a few stone in weight. Both would take training, time and much mental and physical effort.
So what can we do about it right now? Today even? The answer is to break that goal right down into smaller chunks. Remember that ‘every journey starts with one single step’, so let that encourage you. Even by reading this article you are showing that you’re willing to do something about your New Year’s Resolution and for that you should be proud, you have already taken that first step!
Grab your pen and paper again. (If you have your calendar or diary to hand that would also help, but it not, carry on reading). Write down the days of the week in columns starting from today (or tomorrow, depending on the current time!) and I would like you to write down just one little thing you are going to do each day differently which will help you work towards achieving your goal. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, tomorrow you could make sure you eat an extra piece of fruit or take the stairs instead of the elevator to work, or get off the bus one stop earlier to enjoy the fresh air.
Each and every day, making one small change will lead to a ‘lifestyle shift’ in your life. If you’re feeling inspired, write ahead for the next week too, but try not to get too far ahead of yourself, as you don’t want to feel overwhelmed. Take it one day at a time and then one week at a time. You can follow this procedure weekly. Each Sunday night for example, grab a cup of tea and jot down your weekly targets; and that leads us nicely on to tip number 3...
3. Reward Yourself!
Track Your Progress
You may think that Reward Charts are just for children, but psychologically, some adults can also benefit from the validation a reward chart provides. Sure, this will only work for certain people, and arguably, maybe the very concept could stem back to parental or childhood issues and a lack of validation. Either way, I’m simply putting forward the concept of ‘rewards’ here, so it by no means has to be a chart; it is simply the ‘method of rewarding yourself’ that you find works best for you specifically as an individual.
If you do like the idea of a reward chart, it does not have to be overly juvenile, just buy some small stickers for your diary, and when you do something towards your New Year’s Resolution, give yourself a sticker! You’ll not only feel good, you’ll also have a visual aid to track your progress.
Now, if we’re sticking with our losing weight analogy, then obviously once you have exercised or eaten healthily, you should not then go and binge at the next available opportunity on fatty foods. It’s all about balance. The odd chocolate bar can still find its way into your diet, that’s not the end of the world. If it happens, firstly, forgive yourself. You need to put it into perspective, and don’t lose hope; everyone will have their glitches and their days when they want to be lazy, relax and switch off.
The last thing you want to do is cut something completely out of your diet immediately anyway, because your brain will only work against you, making you desire the item more, so take things gradually. Rewards could be small things and you could gather a certain number of stars before you ‘claim’ a reward for yourself.
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For example, once you achieve getting 5 stars/stickers, why not treat yourself to a new work-out top? And then twenty stars/stickers, buy yourself a pair of new trainers/sneakers? Each and every time you’ll look at these items, you’ll be able to visualize your goal and find your inner motivation to continue. Which leads us on to tip 4...
How Great Would It Be If...
When you hear the word ‘visualization’ you may think it sounds slightly vague, but all it literally means is to ‘focus on a positive mental image’. Visualizing repeatedly, will create a feeling of desire around your goals. This in turn, will start embedding in you psychologically. Your brain will then eventually reach the conclusion or realization that this desire for success feels good! And then both your mind and body will want to work in unison with you, to achieve your goals.
If you are struggling to visualize anything, then draw a picture or look up images that inspire you and put these up around your work space or home. Visual aids are tools we should employ more frequently in life to facilitate our motivation, and to inspire us.
If you’re still reading this far, then congratulations! Pat yourself on the back because you have just shown your first step in committing to achieving your New Year’s Resolutions already! I hope you feel proud and full of possibilities. This year really can be your year for success.
Everyone has the same start line, so give it your best shot (and then, if you don’t quite manage it, fear not because there is always next year!). But most of all, good luck in achieving your goals. I hope this year brings you much happiness and all that you hope for in your life.
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Just for fun, here is You Tuber Susie Sampson asking the general public what some of their New Year’s Resolutions were last year.