So it’s the first week of January and I am wondering how your New Year resolutions are going?
I’m not a big fan of NY resolutions because they don’t tend to work; in fact they are invariably counter-productive. Why? Well, usually the goal (resolution, dream, aspiration – call it what you will) is too ambitious. For example, I want to lose 10kg over the next 6 months. It might happen but it may well not. Or, I’m going to go to the gym 4 times a week. We all know what happens next – 4 times swiftly drops to 3 times, to 2 times … you get my drift. And the how do you feel? Pretty fed up I expect. Failure tends to lead to self-criticism and poor self-esteem. It isn’t a good place to be.
Why else do NY Resolutions fail? Motivation is high in January – new year, clean slate and all that. But motivation tends to waver by week 3 in January as the January blues kick in! Motivation is important but it is equally important recognise that motivation isn’t a constant. It is worth, however, spending some time thinking about why you’ve set your goal; why you want to achieve it; how will it impact your life and how will you feel if you do achieve it. Write this down and look at every week. Does it still hold true?
So how can you achieve your NY Resolutions? I actually like the term aspirations rather than resolutions. It doesn’t feel so final. Well, first of all you have to ask yourself if you are really ready to put in place the changes that will help you reach your goal. Aspirations or goals can be set at anytime and if you aren’t ready to make changes then the changes won’t happen. Next, I suggest you approach your goals with self-compassion. Berating yourself for failing won’t get your anywhere – it is counter-productive. More on self-compassion in a moment.
I am assuming you have a health related aspiration such “eating healthier in 2022” or “doing more exercise in 2022”. Let’s look at “eating healthier”. What does that mean to you? In order to achieve your eating healthier aspiration you need to break it down into smaller chunks. Think about all the behaviours you could do in order to achieve healthier eating. Write them down. You can see my examples in the photo below. Then choose just one or two of the behaviours that appeal to you, that you think you can do and then break each behaviour down in smaller actions.
So let’s take “eat more veg” as the behaviour you want to work how on. How are you going to achieve this? You want to turn this behaviour into a new habit so you have to start small in order for it to stick. You need to meet yourself where you are at. Aiming too high will lead to failure. Starting small may mean adding one extra portion of veg to one meal a day. How will you ensure that you have the vegetables in your house? Maybe you need to plan ahead and write a shopping list and plan your meals or you could order a vegetable box to be delivered to your house.
Changing habits or introducing new ones does require some work but the smaller you make the new behaviour the easier it will be to do.
The next bit is really important. Every time you carry out the new behaviour celebrate. That doesn’t mean reward yourself with a box of chocolates! Celebrate yourself with a smile or a high five in the mirror or say well done followed by your name out loud. It may feel a little weird but this celebration will have a positive affect on your brain and will help the new behaviour stick. And if you don’t do the new behaviour one day then have some self-compassion – it’s no big deal. Just remind yourself why you’re doing what you are doing (this is where your motivation and WHY comes in) and start again the next day. If you keep failing with behaviour then try a different one.
Try it and find out. Let me know how you get on.
If you’d like to know about how health coaching can help you make lifestyle changes which will reduce your risk of developing a chronic disease such as dementia, osteoporosis, heart disease or type 2 diabetes then please contact me here or book an appointment with me here for a free 30 minute Discovery chat.