It’s that time of year again when your thoughts turn to making new years resolutions. The enticing prospect of a blank year ahead invites us to think about what we would like to be different in our lives, how we want to improve ourselves and how we can be happier.
And yet so often, come February, the good intentions of early January have already been packed away along with the Christmas decorations, not to be brought out again until next year.
What happens? One common reason is that we quickly go back to our ‘normal’ lives of work and school and the usual routines and along with them come the usual habits and ways of behaving. Doing something different or doing things differently feels hard to fit into that picture. It doesn’t feel like a conscious choice not to follow through on our resolutions but they slip to the back of our minds and out of sight we simply forget about them.
Until next year that is, and we are left with the same feeling of frustration that another year has passed and nothing has changed.
Or perhaps you have more resilience and keep them going a little longer. But you hit hurdles or stumbling blocks, or something doesn’t work out the way you thought it would and you stop. Momentum is lost and it can feel hard, if not impossible to get restarted. And there isn’t a convenient date to act as a catalyst to action. So again, the resolutions get forgotten about. Until next year, of course.
So how can it be different?
I believe there are 10 steps that will make it different for this year:
1. Be clear about what you want
- Don’t make it a list of what you don’t want and make sure you are specific about what you do want. For example, if you have written “lose weight”, write down how much you want to lose and by when
2. Know why you want it – or who wrote this list anyway?
- Writing down why you want something will give you a handy reminder to go back to when you’re feeling un motivated.
- Make sure the list is yours. Not someone else’s voice in your head telling you all the things you “should” do.
3. Be specific about what you will do
- It’s very hard to be in action around a vague list of “will do more of…” and “will do less of…”. If you gave your list to someone else would they know exactly what you were doing when?
4. Know what stops you
- There will be times when it feels hard to be in action or you simply won’t feel like it. Being honest with yourself about what will stop you now whilst you are feeling motivated will let you plan for these situations and not make them the end of your resolutions.
5. Create support structures
- When you know what stops you put support structures in place now that will keep you on track. Examples include other people – such as a buddy system – using your diary to schedule reminders, notes on your bathroom mirror, pictures in prominent places.
6. Be in action
- Sometimes the only thing that is required is to just do it! For no other reason that you said you would. One of the biggest enemies of keeping your new year resolutions is analysing them, yourself, the world. This is the time to look back at why you wanted to achieve this resolution in the first place and to be in action.
7. Embrace imperfection
- Sometimes things will not go to plan. It happens. Don’t let it throw you off track completely. Make adjustments, come up with new ways of doing things, create a new plan for the imperfect world you live in. It’s perfect.
8. When failing isn’t failing
- Feeling that you’ve failed at something can be a real kick in the teeth and the end to achieving goals. So think of failing differently. Failing means you are doing something different, possibly something new. Did you learn to walk without failing over a few times? I doubt it. Did you give up? I’m guessing not. Failing isn’t failing, it’s just not having done it yet.
- Don’t hold out until the “big prize”. Create reward points along the way. Reward yourself for being in action. Be kind to yourself and use the carrot, or lots of carrots, and not the stick!
- Most importantly, your new years resolutions are about being happier, more fulfilled, enjoying your life. If it is a punishment list put it in the bin right now!
Lesley Tulley is a Life Coach and founder of Emerald City Coaching. Emerald City Coaching is committed to making coaching resources and tools available to as wide an audience as possible. Please visit http://www.emeraldcitycoaching.co.uk/coaching-tools to find out how these resources can help you.