Did you set any New Year’s resolutions? Or was your unofficial resolution not to bother this year?
The start of a new year can be a great time to set ourselves fresh goals. But why do so many good intentions fall by the wayside soon after the decorations have been packed away for another year?
Studies have shown that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after January, and only 8% actually achieve them.
Psychologists say that if we’re serious about making lasting changes to our lives or routines then instead of resolutions we should be focussed on goals. These tend to be more specific, whereas resolutions are broader and therefore more vague. Setting ourselves a clear target makes them more effective.
And while the temptation may be to make sweeping change for maximum impact. Psychologists argue we’re more likely to succeed if we break our resolution into smaller goals that are specific, measurable and time-based.
Here are some other tips if your resolutions are already beginning to wobble.
Make resolutions that you think you can keep. If, for example, your aim is to exercise more frequently and you currently do very little, then it’s perhaps over-optimistic to say you’ll commit to going to the gym every day.
Start small and build up – psychologically this means you’re less likely to view the change as a punishment and it will stick.
Similarly, if the resolution is to eat more healthily, rather than denying yourself completely replace the sugary snacks or cakes with something else you enjoy, like fruit or yoghurt.
Replacing unhealthy behaviours or habits with healthy ones requires time. Don’t get overwhelmed and think that you have to reassess every aspect of your life. That’s setting yourself up for failure. Work towards one change at a time.
Sharing our aspirations with family and friends has many advantages. It helps us to commit to our new behaviours, making them seem more real when they’re not only owned by us but others may be asking about progress. It’s too easy to simply abandon a new goal as too hard if others aren’t aware of our new regime.
Having someone to share your struggles and successes with makes your journey easier and less intimidating. Sharing experiences with someone with a similar goal can be an additional spur to stick with it.
Make the change visible, such as with a note on the fridge at home or post on social media.
Setbacks when reaching goals are completely normal. Treat them as a one-off and don’t let them become the excuse for giving up.
If you missed the gym one day, resolve to go the next. Or just accept nobody’s perfect, it was only one day and stick with your existing plan.
We asked some of the Merrick team about their New Year resolutions.
Professional – Running #LawtoDoor sessions
Personal – Trying to get back into reading so 12 books in 12 months
Professional – Strive to learn something new every day
Personal – As a family, spend less time on social media and more time outdoors
Professional – Attend as many professional networking events as possible
Personal – Spend more time with people that matter
Professional – Build the Merrick Life audience and brand
Personal – 1,000 miles running/cycling including two new challenges