After the Christmas season of overeating, socialising and general festivities, most of us come to January with a sense of resolve that we are going to make some changes to improve either ourselves, or our environment. By January the First, millions of resolute people make a promise that they will achieve something different, whether it is stopping smoking, going to the gym and getting in shape, quitting a bad habit or taking up a new hobby.
The tradition of New Year’s resolutions goes right back to the Babylonians four thousand years ago, who used to make pledges involving farming and agriculture to mark the beginning of the year. Since then, the tradition was continued by the Romans, the Chinese (who pledged to clean their house from top to bottom) and now, the modern world. There is something truly satisfying about making a promise to do something differently, and subsequently sticking to it, and there is no better time to do it than at the beginning of a new year, with all the promise and willpower which that can bring.
All that said, many of us find ourselves making a pledge to achieve something, only to find that by the end of January or will to achieve has dwindled somewhat, and we are left feeling disappointed in ourselves. The following tips are designed to support you in making a great New Year’s resolution, and stick to it…
Choose something realistic
The most fruitful resolutions involve something which is entirely feasible to achieve. Rather than telling yourself to lose half your body weight by the end of the month, cut out drinking for the rest of your life or become the next leader in world peace, choose something which is within reach. It could be that you decide to cut down on your alcohol intake, go to the gym twice a week or pledge to take up a new hobby. Whatever you pick, make sure it is tangible and can actually be realized, so you don’t lose heart at the first hurdle.
Set yourself an end date
Nobody responds well to the thought of endlessly undertaking an activity which doesn’t inspire them. Deciding that you are going to stop smoking, forever, is not as effective as telling yourself that you have a target to quit and not smoke for the next two months. The chances are, as you progress, you’ll choose to extend your deadlines anyway. The beauty of this is that you break your resolution up in to a manageable size, making it easier to realise.
Tell everyone about your plan
Nothing spurs willpower on more than being encouraged and supported. Tell people around you what you are planning, to give yourself a little more incentive to achieve, and line up people to call when your resolve is wavering.
Pick a great reward
The best possible way of achieving something is to give yourself a nice reward at the end of it. Whether you put some money aside from quitting a habit to buy yourself something you’ve always wanted, or simply promise yourself a gift at the end of your resolution, make sure you have a great incentive to achieve, and make the reward as much a part of the overall resolution as the job itself.
By Bev James – managing director of The Coaching Academy, who are specialists in business and life coaching training