advice

How to set effective New Years Resolutions

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This has been a huge year for me, especially when it comes to my health and well being. It’s been full of changes and while some of it has been really tough I can say this year has changed my life for the good! The question this leads to is, what’s next?

Now that the festive season is coming to an end many of you will be starting to think about New Year’s resolutions, I know I certainly am! I love New Years, I love the feeling that one year is over. Everything that has happened that year is done with and I can now start the next 12 months with a fresh look, taking in everything I have learnt over the last year, to make 2016 even better.

I love setting New Year’s resolutions, I like having a goal and something to focus on but I also find that all too often it gets to the end of January and I haven’t met my goals, I lose motivation and I give up. I think that I can only recall one New Year’s resolution I have actually stuck to!

So why do we find it so hard to keep our New Year’s resolutions? I think it has something to do with the goals we make. Most resolutions are general long term goals for example, I am going to lose weight or I am going to get fit.

So what can we do about to make your goals more achievable. A big part of my job is making goals with people and an importantly aspect is that these goals have to be SMART, that is specific, measurable, attainable, result focused and time bound. It has been found that if a goal has these elements it is more likely the person to be completed! I have been using these techniques over the last couples of months and have been much more successful in sticking to my goals! Most New Year resolutions are not SMART, they are too general and therefore by using the techniques below you can improve the chances of reaching your goals!

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So how to make goals SMART:

Specific – be as specific as possible. It’s great to have an overarching goal but then break that down and be specific about what you want to achieve. For example if your goal is to do more exercise, what do you think that would look like? Your goal could be going to the gym 3 times a week.

Measurable – this is easier to do the more specific your goal is, for example if we go with going to the gym 3 times a week you will know if you have done that or not. It may be good to keep a record of it, so write in a diary what and when you are going to do something and tick it off when you have done it.

Attainable – or achievable, are you capable of carrying out this goal. If your goal is to get fitter be realistic about what you want to achieve and where you are now. If currently you are doing no exercise at all it might be too much to start doing 6 workouts a week. While it is good to push yourself if the task is too big it could become overwhelming and you end up putting it off. One way to achieve this is to look at what you want to achieve by the end of the year, for example if you want to be able to run 10k break it down into 12 smaller goals to get you there. Start by running for 20 minutes 3 times a week for January and then build from there. This is also where it is important to review your goals, if something becomes easy you can move to the next goal earlier or if something isn’t working you can think of different ways to get you to your goal.

Result focused – know what you want to get out of your goal, if it is eating healthy it might be you want to have more energy. Knowing what you want will help keep you motivated. Write it down on a piece of paper and put this somewhere you will see it to remind yourself why you have started.

Time focused – A year is a long time and therefore break your goal down into small chunks that are time limited so smaller goals for a month or a week even. Review your goals at the beginning of each month to see if you are on track and if you need to make any amendments. If your goal is for the year it is easy to put off doing things and then before you know it you are half way through the year and you aren’t any closer. Knowing you have a month or a week to do something is more motivating!

Other tips:

  1. Write it down, I cannot recommend this enough! Writing down a goal makes it more real and more likely that we will go ahead with what we have planned to do.
  2. Set time aside to work towards your goal. If you can plan out exactly when (time and date) and how long you will spend on each task or activity. Knowing that time is just for you to work towards your goal is motivating and you’re more likely to be more productive in a specific time frame and then doing odd jobs here and there.
  3. Tell others your goals! We are more likely to follow goals through if we have shared them with others. Other people can be a great sense of support and encouragement!
  4. Remember that you have an entire year to meet your goal, I sometimes think if I haven’t completed my goal immediately I have failed but that simply isn’t true! If I have learn anything this year it is that lifestyle changes take time, give yourself that time.

Finally I thought I would share my New Year’s Resolutions:

  1. Complete a foundation course in Yoga, attending 11 teaching days and practising twice a week. Monthly goals will be set after each teaching day.
  • January: take part in a yoga challenge
  1. To actively develop an attitude for gratitude!
  • Complete 5 things I am grateful for once a week and start a jar of moments that I am grateful for to look back at next year!
  1. To meditate 5 times a week
  • January: 10 minutes mediation using headspace app when I first get up Monday – Friday.
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