For many of us, the New Year holds the promise of a fresh start – a time when we’re filled with energy and enthusiasm about the year ahead, setting lofty goals about all the things we want to achieve.
We all know the feeling of a failed resolution – unused gym memberships, cookbooks gathering dust and empty notebooks are just a few reminders that in the end we didn’t have as much follow through as we’d hoped.
Setting a good New Year’s resolution is all about balance; you need a goal that can challenge and motivate you, but one realistic enough that you can achieve. Too easy, and we won’t feel that life-affirming sense of accomplishment. Too difficult on the other hand, and we can be left feeling anxious, low and disappointed in ourselves when we fall at the first hurdle.
To help you ring in the New Year on the right note, today we’re sharing how to set realistic goals for yourself along with tips about how to achieve them.
Forget “New Year, New You”
Before you set any resolutions about the year ahead, it’s important to let go of the “New Year, New You” trap we all too often fall into around this time of year. Resist the urge to imagine yourself as a completely new person next year; look at your goals as an opportunity to learn and improve instead.
If your goals are too rigid – for example, “I’ll go to the gym everyday” – then you’ll feel as though you failed the first time you miss a session. Instead, try setting a more flexible goal that doesn’t deal in absolutes.
When we make resolutions we tend to focus on aspects of ourselves we don’t like or want to change. Framing our goals in negativity isn’t motivating. Instead of saying “I need to lose weight” or “I want to stop eating junk food” look for ways to spin this as something more positive, such as “Eating healthier” or “Staying active”, where you are adding something to your life rather than taking it away.
Make room in your life to add something new to your routine. If your goal is to write a memoir, set aside a set time each week to work on this. If you plan to start running or want to focus on healthy eating, think about where this can fit into your schedule – make time for prep and meal planning for example, or wake up twenty minutes earlier to squeeze in a short workout.
Make it measurable
Vague goals are just as difficult to meet as rigid ones, so make sure you build in some measurable milestones along the way in the form of smaller mini-goals. For example, if your resolution is to take up running, perhaps your first step could to be to complete the Couch to 5K running programme, or to complete one mile without stopping. Once you’ve hit that target, you can move forward onto the next.
Celebrate the journey
The process is just as important as the outcome when it comes to setting goals, and if you enjoy yourself along the way you’re much more likely to keep working towards your goals.
So tell us: will you be setting any New Year’s Resolutions this year?