How to keep new year's resolutions!
Here we are again, making our news years resolutions. Many of us will be wondering, "how come they look almost the same as they did last year...?"
So, here are our
5 tips for keeping new years resolutions, and making sure they work!
Tip 1: Start small
I'm going to get up at 5.30 each day and do a two hour workout before eating a super healthy breakfast, answering important emails before I even get to work, spending quality time with my kids every day, and not spending any more money on that wee vice of mine that gives me so much pleasure. Yeah, right..... Is it any wonder this doesn't work?
Most resolutions fall flat on their face because they're just too darn big! The bigger they are, the less likely they are to be accomplished.
Start small. You know how the say the longest journey starts with the smallest steps? Well, it's the same for our psychology, or anything else in life. Nobody ever magically transported themselves from where they were sitting to the top of Mount Everest. You have to admit that it's easier to walk for 10 minutes than it is to walk 10 kilometres. So start small. The smaller the task, the more likely you are able to complete it. The larger it is, the more likely you are to put off ever having started it! And if you do start it, it's unlikely you'll finish, thus reinforcing any 'failure' or "well that didn't work" beliefs that you might be harbouring.
So, start small, and start with just one resolution. You don't have to start them all on one day! For example, start with 'exercise' in January, starting with two minutes a day for the first week, then 5 minutes / day for the second week, and so on. Once you start getting results, you'll be more motivated to start your second resolution in February (only eating dessert 6 days / week, then 5 days / week, etc). For this to work, make sure you've got your plan written down and somewhere you'll see it each day.
Tip 2: Make it a habit
Know why your resolutions never work? Because willpower and discipline don't last. Habits do. They become ingrained to the point where no effort is required to maintain them. You probably have lots of habits already. Things that just get done without even thinking about it. Having a shower. Brushing your teeth. Combing your hair. You don't need much willpower or discipline to get these done. Two hours exercise? Hmm, maybe! Two minutes exercise? Sure. Just make it a habit. How? Stack your habits! Make sure you always do something immediately before or after another habit that you have.
Make it a habit that immediately after brushing your teeth, you put on your running shoes. Leave your shoes in the bathroom if you need to. Once your shoes are on, you'll probably go for a walk or run, otherwise you'll feel like a real doofus wandering around the house in running shoes... Oh, and start with a small walk or run. Around the block once. Just until it becomes a habit. Then make it a bit bigger.
You can also build healthy new habits out of your resolutions. The trick here is to have a definite 'cue' or 'trigger' for your new habit that will support your goal. Examples -
Resolution: exercise more. Cue: Getting out of the car. Habit: Every time I park the car at home, I walk around the block twice before opening the front door.
Resolution: eat more healthily. Cue: dinner time! Habit: I always eat my vegetables first, before eating anything else.
Resolution: get out of debt. Cue: getting paid. Habit: The first thing I do when I get paid is pay $100 towards my debt.
Tip 3: Want it
To increase your chances of success, you need to make the resolution something you'll actually enjoy. Here's a tip. 'Giving up' something is never going to be fun, which makes it about a thousand times more unlikely you'll ever do it. Why would you punish yourself? Instead of focusing on what you're going to miss out on (giving up chocolate ice cream, for instance), focus on how much you'll enjoy the benefits (losing weight, feeling better about yourself, fitting into your favourite dress, having more energy, etc).
A simple trick is to change "I have to...." to "I want to...." If you 'have' to exercise today, chances are you'll be filled with dread at the thought and will put it off until something conveniently comes along to give you the perfect excuse for not doing it. But if you 'want' to exercise today, you're more likely to get out there and make it happen before you lose the chance.
So, remember why you're doing this. What do you want?
This brings us on to...
Tip 4: Have a clear goal
Lose weight, exercise more, eat more healthily, reduce debt.... these resolutions don't work because they are so vague. The one we mentioned above - having more energy - is a good example of what not to do! How will you know when you've achieved your goal? So instead, make it measurable. E.g. I will lose 10 kg, or I will be able to swim 20 laps without needing to take a break, or I will have achieved my savings target of $5,000. And here's our segue to our next hot tip!
Tip 5: Track your progress
Another benefit of having a well defined goal is that you can track your progress. This is more important than it sounds. If you don't monitor your progress, chances are you'll feel like you're getting nowhere, and you'll quit. Your new years resolution is more likely to stick when you can see the progress you're making. e.g. my weight has dropped by 200g this week; my bank balance is up by $47. This is actually one benefit of all the Fitness apps that are out there, as they provide an easy way to see the results you're getting.
It's also easier if you're not going it alone. Having a friend to check in who shares a similar goal means you can check in regularly, provide mutual support, hold each other accountable, etc.
Is your new year's resolution to study, or change career, or be more healthy?
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