For many of us, the New Year brings with it an opportunity for a fresh start. Making a list of New Year’s resolutions can be cathartic and empowering, but sticking with them past January is easier said than done.
New Year’s resolutions often start off well, but their effect is woefully short-lived – in fact most are doomed to failure within the first two weeks! The problem is, research shows, that the moment we feel a bit stressed, tired or down, our willpower flies straight out of the window. What’s more, breaking our resolutions makes us feel even worse about ourselves, which saps our motivation to try again.
With this in mind, I’ve put together my top tips for helping you to create resolutions that really last.
Keep it realistic
Being ambitious is great, but try to pick resolutions that you’re actually likely to stick with. Deciding to run a half marathon if you’ve not gone for a run in years is unrealistic – instead, you could sign up for a 5k or 10k challenge, and set yourself a gentler goal. It doesn’t mean you couldn’t build up to do a marathon eventually, but a smaller goal will be easier for you to achieve. Plus, the positivity you’ll get from achieving any goal will help you to stick with your resolution long-term.
Vague resolutions like ‘get fit’, or ‘be more healthy’ can be difficult to keep on top of, and can feel unattainable, leading to you feeling disappointed when you don’t fully achieve them. Instead, give yourself specific, attainable goals that will be easier for you to keep track of and manage. For example, you could resolve to exercise for 30 minutes, three times a week, or to cut out caffeine, or sugar.
With all resolutions, there will be moments when your willpower will be tested, but if you’re prepared, then you’ll be better equipped to stay on track. Identify the problems that might occur – perhaps you have a certain friend who tempts you to overeat, or you might have an occasion or holiday that could wreak havoc with your healthy eating or fitness plans? Once you’ve determined the problems that might come up, you can focus on working out ways to cope with them and keep your resolutions in check.
Don’t be hard on yourself
At the end of the day, none of us is perfect, and there may well be times when you slip up. But if you do, don’t punish yourself for it. Instead, keep a note of what has triggered you to fail this time, and see it as a lesson you can learn from. If staying up late makes you more likely to cancel a training session the next day, then try your best to get to sleep at a reasonable time. Or if you find that stress leaves you reaching for the sugary snacks, then try removing those sugary items from your kitchen and stocking up instead on healthier alternatives that you can reach for, guilt-free.
About the author: Dr Sally Norton is a UK Leading Health Expert, NHS Weight Loss Surgeon and Founder of www.vavistalife.com