Each year, as January 1st inevitably rolls in, we are bombarded with the same question:
“So, any New Year’s resolutions?”.
We frantically compile lists of things we would like to achieve over the coming 12 months, and pile on the pressure to achieve those goals. “New Year, New Me”, rings out nation-wide as people rush to the gym, glare defiantly at the leftover Christmas cookies, and pour away the remaining eggnog. We breathe a sigh of relief at the prospect that this year might be the year.
Along comes February. Suddenly, your determination to meet those goals which, at the start of the year seemed so full of hope, has dwindled. It’s cold. Really cold. The craving for something tasty and comforting drastically outweighs your resolve to limit simple carbohydrates. Remaining bundled in a blanket seems much more reasonable than making your way to the gym. You are not alone. Approximately approximately 50% of Canadians abandon their resolutions after the first month. By the end of the year, 73% have waved them goodbye.
However, do not let this discourage you. In fact, looking at these statistics we can learn some important lessons about how to approach the New Year. Here are our top 5 tips.
Change the way you approach ‘resolutions’
‘Resolution’ is defined as “a firm decision to do or not to do something”. The problem with looking at the New Year this way is that it sets you up for guilt or shame should you fail to achieve the goals you set yourself. It is better to approach the New Year with New, or perhaps ‘Renewed’, Intentions. Assess where you felt the past year could have gone better, and identify how you can improve on those areas. Then, go into the New Year with every good intention that you will work on improving those areas. Should you slip and fall back on those intentions, simply revisit them and remember why it was important to you in the first place.
Keep it simple!
If you set yourself 10 goals for the New Year, your attention and dedication is going to be split 10 ways. This significantly diminishes your chance of achieving any of your goals. If, however, you set yourself 1 goal, your attention will be solely focused on that. Limit your New Year’s intentions and you will be more likely to achieve them.
Whilst having the intention to ‘get fit’ is highly commendable, it does not identify the means by which you are to ‘get fit’, nor does it suggest what ‘get fit’ means to you. Be sure to set yourself SMART goals in order to increase your adherence to your New Year’s intentions. SMART is: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Constrained. For example, you may intend to improve your cardiovascular fitness. To achieve this, you may set the short-term goal of walking on the treadmill for 30 minutes, at a moderate pace, 3 times a week for 4 weeks. As you reach this milestone, you may adapt it so that you walk for 45 minutes on the treadmill, 4 times a week. Sticking to your goals consistently throughout the year will ensure you reach your goal of improved cardiovascular fitness in 2020!
Allow room for error – without penance!
Even with the best intentions, sticking to healthy habits and routines isn’t easy. It takes hard-work, dedication and consistency. However, some days you just won’t stick to it. Life has a habit of throwing the unexpected in your direction, and when it does so, there is no use in punishing yourself or wishing things had turned out differently. Roll with the punches, be kind to yourself and when you can, get back at it. Punishing yourself will only lead to a negative feedback loop which ultimately impedes progress. Kindness is key.
Keep your goals personal
Whilst intentions for the New Year are a common topic of conversation, it is best to keep your goals to yourself. This allows you to limit the amount of pressure that you are placed on yourself. You can remain self-motivated, whilst knowing that there is no external pressure to achieve your goals. If, by the end of the year, you are successful in realising your New Year’s intentions, you can of course share your success with others. However, by limiting the amount of people you share your intentions with, you limit the amount of pressure you place on yourself. This ensures you remain self-motivated and increases the likelihood of achieving your goal.