I’m sure we can all think about New Year’s resolutions that we have made and broken. I know that I can think of some! Making new resolutions is often about changing our bad habits or becoming fitter. For example I often hear New Year resolutions of people stopping smoking or drinking or joining a gym. Two or three weeks into January, these are often broken with people feeling they have failed.
Therefore instead of thinking about New Year resolutions, it would be more useful as the year comes to a close to take the opportunity to reflect on the past year. Celebrate your successes and think about how you can accept you as who you are and what positive things will help your next year be more rewarding.
Accept ourselves first
It is good for us to think about the good and bad things that have happened in our year. Reflection is essential. We need to celebrate our successes, the friendships we have enjoyed, the great places we have seen and things that have made us laugh. This will help us to reflect productively on things that have not been good and what we need to change about ourselves. We need to understand ourselves to accept who we are.
Once you have reflected and accepted yourself rather than wishing what you could be, you can start to think about the positive changes you can bring into your life. Often people who smoke or drink too much are deflecting from their emotions or situations in their life. You may find that you smoke or drink to hide depression, anxiety or stress. Therefore before you say ‘ I will stop smoking’, think what is behind the habit and if there was a situation that made you start the habit. This will then help you decide what changes you need to make in your life.
Change your environment
To help you carry out change, it may involve changing how and who you spend your time with. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, going out with friends who always meet at fast food restaurants will not help you. It is therefore helpful to change the environment that prompts this bad habit. Whereas if you join a weight loosing group, you are spending time with people who share the same goal as you and can help motivate you. You never know you may make new friends doing this!
Don’t have high expectations
Do not put high expectations on yourself. If you think ‘I will only eat healthily from now on’ you will find it hard to fulfil. Whereas if you put a positive spin on it, such as ‘ I feel much better when I eat healthy’, you will find it is easier to achieve your goal. If you fail for a day, it doesn’t matter, you just go back to being healthy the next day. Whereas if you think you must not eat sugar from now on, you will only feel failure if you eat sugar.
To help you keep to your changes you will need to record all the positive changes you have made. This will help you keep to your plan and motivate you to stick to it. Record all your successes. Remember it is always to praise yourself when you have stuck to your plan or if any changes you have made make you feel good. And finally, avoid self-blame if you do slip!
Finally……Remember change will not happen overnight. It will take time. You need to look beyond January. Meaningful change can take 3- 6 months to happen but a lot can be achieved in the first 30 days.
Good luck and Happy New Year!