New Year, New You
Seven steps to setting new year resolutions that you can actually meet
We love to romanticise beginnings: we wax lyrical and write poems about new love, embrace the optimism we feel when starting a new job, and stoically usher in each new year with new year resolutions. It seems we really love the idea of being able to wipe the slate clean, start afresh, and do things better than we did the last time.
Yet in reality, things don’t always seem to work out that way. It is estimated that more than half of all New Year resolutions don’t even make it past being on the list! And let’s be honest – how many times have you succeeded in following through with them?
But before you write it off altogether, there is some good news. According to a Journal of Clinical Psychology study, people who set New Year’s resolutions are actually 10 times more likely to change their behavior than people who don’t do the same. Now it all makes sense, doesn’t it? No wonder meditation practitioners always advocate setting your intention. When we take the time to think through what we want to achieve in the coming year and put it in writing (or in your phone’s Notes), we are putting our New Year resolutions out there to the universe. Here’re some simple steps you can take towards setting New Year resolutions that are attainable:
#1: Set Tangible, Realistic Goals
If your New Year resolutions read: lose weight, save more money, travel more, chances are, you won’t see them through. This is because setting abstract and vague goals makes people less likely to succeed in them. Instead, try specifying what you want to achieve. So instead of just stating that you want to lose weight, narrow it down to something like “lose 10 kg”. Similarly, instead of wanting to save more money, set a tangible goal like “save $500 every month”.
#2: Focus Your Efforts
Just like at work or in life, trying to take on too many things at once often means you spread yourself too thin, and the quality of your work or life suffers. We might want to visit Central Asia, take an Indian cooking course, go for yoga class more often, quit smoking, lose weight, save more money etc. If you find yourself out of breath just reading the previous sentence out loud, chances are you’ll wear yourself out trying to achieve them. When you try to achieve too many things, what happens is the task of completing your New Year’s resolutions either becomes too daunting, or you simply become too worn out to finish them all. So streamline your efforts to make 2019 the year of health and wellness! Start by setting the target of thrice-weekly yoga class. Post-class, make it a point to have low calorie meals. This way, you’ll already be moving closer to two of your resolutions.
#3: Start Small
Set realistic tangible goals that are realistic and take baby steps towards achieving them. No one loses 10 kg without consistent hard work and dedication. This means frequent work out sessions, multiple times a week. To get yourself going, take baby steps and perhaps start with one or two sessions initially before increasing the frequency. Needless to say, going slow and taking baby steps do make it easier to see something through.
#4: Plan Ahead
As the saying goes, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. To increase the odds in your favour, make a plan detailing how you intend to achieve your goal. For instance, if your goal is to lose 10kg by the end of the year, that works out to just under 1kg per month. Do some research on the best activities for calorie-burning or find out the types of work-out classes you can attend to support your weight loss efforts, then make the conscious decision to prioritise your time accordingly.
#5: Keep A Journal
The act of writing down your achievements, no matter how small they are, and how you felt during those moments, is as reaffirming and rewarding as reading and celebrating those baby steps. Journaling keeps you on track and keeps you accountable.
#6: Accept Failure As Part Of The Process
We’re human, and it’s only natural for us to slip up every once in a while. Well let’s say you set yourself the goal of running two kilometres everyday but find yourself managing to do it only five times this week. Cut yourself a little slack and let it go. There’s no need to beat yourself up or get overly upset. In life, what really matters isn’t sailing through everything without obstacles – what makes a difference is how we pick ourselves up after we fall down. So rather than obsess over a missed milestone or pretend it didn’t happen at all, acknowledge a setback, and then move on.
#7: Reward Yourself
If you’ve been disciplined enough and hit your targets, go ahead and indulge in a little treat! So let’s say you’ve been consistently working out for a couple of months now, and have avoided bingeing on junk foods, it’s ok to reward yourself with that little slice of chocolate cake that you’ve been eyeing. As long as it’s sensible, a little reward goes a long way in motivating yourself to stay on course.