I like the ‘new start’, the blank sheet. I can pick my sorry-self up and start again on my goals and objectives. So, I’m not trashing New Year’s Resolutions (NYR’s) here. The sad reality is that most of us will fail. If statistics are to be believed, less than 8% of us will stick to our NYR’s – not an impressive figure.
Why set yourself up for such failure and disappointment? Your will power maybe Herculean in comparison to mine, you may not have ill-health and ‘stuff’ getting in the way of your plans, but most of us will.
Be realistic. If you haven’t exercised in 12 months the chances are that a NYR to ‘get fit’ isn’t going to engage you beyond a few weeks. If you’ve not been paying attention to what you eat, and working at a healthier lifestyle in the previous year, setting a NYR to ‘lose weight’ is probably unrealistic. Be kind to yourself. Don’t set yourself up to fail. I’ve set enough NYR’s – and failed – to know how disempowering this can be.
Last year was different. Last year I made no NYR’s. I had one goal: to complete a 5k by the end of September. I achieved this by taking 10 minutes of exercise a day. Some days I couldn’t do anything. As time went by, and I got fitter, I did more – a 15 minute walk, a short swim. I didn’t beat myself up when I couldn’t exercise because of health issues. I did what I could, when I could. I didn’t give up. I hadn’t failed. I was simply doing 10 minutes exercise a day. At the end of September I ran – and walked – the Inverness Marathon 5k in 43 minutes. Goal achieved.
Had I set myself the NYR to run a 5k in January, I would have failed. I would have struggled. I would have been discouraged and given up. Setting a realistic goal meant I could regularly achieve it, and that builds confidence and resolve. Increment by increment, step by step, I got fitter.
We take this staged approach in work, breaking a project down into manageable steps, putting them onto a realistic timeline that means we reach our target in a measured achievable way.
As an example of a NYR, that is also about lifestyle change, let’s take ‘becoming a vegetarian’. Instead of cutting out all animals based sources of protein (meat and fish) on day one, and succumbing to a bacon butty on day three, and feeling miserable and possibly giving up, be kind to yourself; break the project down into bite sized chunks (no pun intended). Reduce your meat intake to start with whilst also increasing your vegetable input. Broaden your vegetable recipe repertoire, stock your cupboards with protein alternatives, learn about how to supply your body’s nutritional requirement without meat. All these positives to becoming a vegetarian (rather than a negative ‘giving up meat’) will give you a good foundation and encourage you to continue. You might initially plan to reduce your meat intake to once a week, then once a month. You might continue eating fish for a few months, or longer. Whatever you decide you will get there if you plan it in stages and are realistic and honest with yourself.
We are talking about real change here, and it doesn’t have to start on the 1st January, with the implication that there might be an end date too. Your brain will latch onto that and hijack your resolve by winding down towards the end of the year! Look at it this way: every day is a new beginning. If you do something you didn’t want to do, or don’t do something you did, start again tomorrow. Chill out. You’ll always have another day. You haven’t ‘failed’ – your ultimate goal is still intact – you have more than 365 days to achieve it.
The important part is the commitment. Make that decision of the will. If you want to change something you can. You will. It really is as simple as taking one step after another until you get to where you want to be. Use the new year as an opportunity by all means, a kick start to running your first 5k, eating healthier, or whatever your own particular objective is, but think big and act small. There are 365 days to achieve your goal, and another 365 after that. Whatever it is, you can do it. I’m proof!