Don’t Do it! Why I won’t be making any New Year’s Resolutions for 2017


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!


New Year….New You?

Sun up Cromarty firthIt will not have escaped your attention that it’s a new year; in fact, we’re more than a week into 2014 and I’ve not written anything about resolutions or plans, or the exciting things I might be getting up to in the next 12 months.  There’s a good reason for that – I’ve not really made any resolutions this year, for the first time in more years than I can remember.  It’s not that I’m not eagerly anticipating a fresh start, and the opportunity to have my metaphoric slate wiped clean, it’s just that I don’t need the pressure of a diet or a deadline.  I don’t want to set myself up to fail, or prescribe what activities I can take part in.  I want to be more spontaneous, to take opportunities as they arise, and see what happens, rather than chart some prescriptive course that I feel I can’t deviate from; beating myself up for perceived failures and those swerves from the straight and narrow.

There should always be self-improvement in being open-minded, striving to do new things, meet new people, go new places.  We are always changing and growing if we are alive to possibility.  This year I’m remembering that life really is more about the journey than the destination, and although being ‘of the moment’ is both clichéd and probably a bit jaundiced, it is also true nonetheless that we might as well live for and enjoy today because we have no idea what tomorrow holds.

There’s a place for objectivising our achievements and challenging ourselves to do more and be more, but there should also be time for simply ‘being’; walking the path today and seeing what happens and making the most of opportunities that might be missed if we have our eyes fixed on something ahead that we think we should be aiming for.

Now, where’s the shredder?  I need to ditch those ‘to do’ lists for a start!



Photo, copyright D Ruppenthal, please do not use without permission

New Year…

New Year Gurinder JeetBoring title, eh? I know. Probably fairly obvious and repetitive content too, but I need to REMIND myself.

I need to remind myself to take advantage of ‘new beginnings’. The slate is psychologically wiped clean at the start of a new year. You can begin again; cast off the bad events, the things that went wrong, the dramas and tragedies that make up our lives. You can reflect on the good stuff – I usually do a scrap book between Christmas and new year to remind me about some of the enjoyable things I’ve done and places I’ve been. It’s good to reflect and review.

You can take the opportunity to be optimistic – look at what you want to achieve this year. A new hobby? A trip abroad? May be just a reminder to catch up with a certain friend or relative? Be positive, but also be realistic, or you risk disappointing yourself before you get into February! I never diet in January, with all the Christmas leftovers I’m bound to fail! If you do want to achieve something make a plan to do it – that way your more likely to succeed.

I need to remind myself too that life is short. This was bought home to me in a big way in 2012 with the deaths of two people close in age to me. I am milestone half-century this year (sshh, don’t tell anyone!) It’s not old – especially now 50 is the new middle-age – but if I get run over by a bus it will be as old as I get! I don’t think this is negative. It’s a good reminder that life is precious and not unlimited. If there are things you want to do, places you want to go, things you want to be, then grasp the moment and do them now, not later.  Not one of us knows if there will be a ‘later’ , so we need to make the most of the ‘now’.

I’ve booked my horse-riding lessons – six of them so I can’t chicken out at lesson 1.  I’ve spoken to the caterers about my party, and I have a plan for arranging my holiday of a lifetime in New Zealand.

I have no doubt that there will be sadness, illness and difficulty this year as there was last, but I also know that being positive and making the most of what life throws at me, as well as planning to achieve some positive results will make this year a good one to look back on too.

Happy 2013 – Carpe Diem!

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New Year New You

OK so it’s a cliche.  Fine me.  I am re-posting an article I wrote last year for an on-line publication.  I have re-read it, and some of it’s a bit cheesy, but essentially I still agree with myself!  I’m not sure if this is encouraging or not.  I think the original premise was a bit of  a rant about all the people who sell books and ‘plans’ at this time of year, knowing that many people will be looking to change something about themselves or their lives.  May be I was just jealous.  The net result was a lack of guilt-ridden new year’s resolutions and an article about taking control back for who you are and who you want to be.  Here goes…

A quick scan of on-line bookstores will indicate the sheer volume and variety of multi-media propositions for changing lives.  Particularly numerous at the start of a new year, books on dieting, changing habits, lifestyles, and even personality, proliferate, seducing people into believing that a simple purchase can change a life.  This time of year is a great time to wipe the slate clean and make some changes for the better, but the sheer volume of tools available can be overwhelming, so it is often better to gain a clear focus on the objective, and work out some practical steps to achieving it, before turning to others for assistance.

Lifestyle gurus, nutritionist and diet planners would love people to buy their books.  Most of them won’t be too bothered if the books  are then stacked on the shelf unread, or whether their advice for a new year makeover is followed.  They have their sale, regardless of the outcome.  However, people end up disillusioned: still 5 pounds heavier from Christmas feasting and no further forward on their life plan.

Books that claim to be able to change lives are not inherently bad.  A lot of books contain good advice, sound dietary principles and practical suggestions for improving shape, weight, finances, health, job, or any of the other myriad of things people want to change about themselves and their lives.  The problem with these books is that they are not personal.  They don’t know what motivates one person from another;  what people’s quirks and idiosyncrasies are, their  hopes and dreams, fears and frailties.  You are the only person who knows what you need and what will motivate you to get it.

Feeling fed up with life, often translates into being fed up with something about yourself.  This is not often a message people want to hear.  A book which promises the answers is a much more attractive proposition.  Ultimately, however, it is individuals who need to make the changes – no one else can do it.  Gurus, guides and authors are helping hands; conceding responsibility for making lifestyle changes to these people will end in disappointment.  Take courage and be encouraged by the message that you have the power!

People need some space and time to find out what they want.  It might be a short term goal, like shedding a few pounds, or it might be a longer term objective like being self-employed, or moving to another country.  The beauty of taking the time to discover a personal vision and developing enough self-belief and confidence to believe in it, is that once you do , you are half way to achieving it!

Most people will have come across SMART objectives at some point, be it in  annual reviews or project plans.  The mnemonic ,which stands for, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time limited or Trackable objectives.  However jaded they might seem in a work context, in personal applications they can be a powerful tool for change.  It’s not a mantra, ideology, fad, or yet another quick fix, but a  template for goal setting which works.  Apply them to personal goals for an effective formula.  There are a number of on-line courses and websites which can help you to formulate SMART objectives if you are unfamiliar with the concept.

Vague dreams  about ‘doing something different’ or ‘being a bit slimmer’ will never amount to much more than frustration.  However, deciding to run a B&B in the country within a 2 year time frame could be enough to inspire and challenge you into taking some real steps of commitment towards the project. Similarly, joining a slimming programme for three months and pledging to lose a pound or 2 a week will result in genuine results within that time frame.

And that’s a good thing.  People know in their own hearts that they have things  they want to achieve; they know that no one can give up smoking on their behalf, or get them a new job or find them a life partner.  When people start to be real with themselves, and realistic with their dreams, they know it’s up to them, and that they have the power to do it.  Books and DVD’s and life coaches,  all have their place, but will never replace self-belief, vision, personal dreams, and individual contribution.  Planning to succeed is what leads to the success that people crave.

This year there will me no ‘new’ me.  I PLAN to take up a few new hobbies, and I will succeed in doing so.  If you have changes you want to make and things you want to do, plan for it, and then just do it.