It’s that time of year again. Just the same as 2022 I still haven’t done any Christmas shopping, I owe my family several phone calls and I am still to realise my summertime ambitions of finishing off a plethora of domestic tasks and life admin that I said would be done before the year ends. The new year marks the time, when we reflect on the past year and make resolutions for how we might better ourselves next year. But as many of us know, these resolutions often fall flat or get left by the wayside as the business of life after Christmas resumes. In this blog, I’d like to share some tips on how to turn New Year’s resolutions into long-term realistic goals and examine what we can do to keep ourselves motivated, fit and healthy all year round.
Time for reflection
It’s easy to start setting yourself goals for the new year without taking the time to reflect on the progress you’ve made this year. It’s far easier to reflect on the things you may not have done, rather than your achievements. Take into account anything you’ve done to improve your health and well-being long-term, whether that’s getting to bed a little earlier, drinking more water or even just being kind to yourself. Reflect on the goals you haven’t achieved and think about what got in your way or prevented you from achieving them. It’s important that we set ourselves realistic goals, so take into account what prevented you from making New Year’s resolutions permanent. Highlight your positive achievements and make a list of areas you’d like to improve.
Failing to plan is planning to fail
Deciding what your New Year’s resolutions should be should be planned to the best of your ability, taking into account your physical capabilities and anything that might get in the way of you achieving your goals. If your goal is to be more active or get fit, what have been the biggest factors preventing you this year? For many people, the answer will be lack of time, lack of motivation or struggle with kickstarting a new fitness routine. Identify what it is that stops you from achieving your goals, and set realistic goals based on what you can change. If lack of time is what’s stopping you, make a weekly schedule and see if you can adjust your week to be more accommodating of your resolutions.
Breaking down long-term goals
If you resolve to achieve certain targets such as losing a certain amount of weight or running a certain distance by the end of the year, break down this target into a series of actions that you can achieve on a daily, weekly and monthly level. Consistency is key when goal setting. It can be tempting to start the new year off by going to the gym every day, or a dramatic change in diet on the 1st of January. However big changes are not the best way of making sustainable improvements to yourself and your body. Set fitness goals based on a realistic expectation of your current fitness levels. If you haven’t been for a run in a month, don’t start with a marathon on the 2nd of January, you’ll feel awful and you won’t want to do it again. Instead, start small, and gradually work your way up to a level of training that you can sustain all year round.
Creating a realistic schedule
As the new year approaches, think about what life circumstances can occur that can prevent you from achieving your New Year’s resolutions, and how best to mitigate them. Create a schedule of your free time that you have to dedicate to your new resolution and figure out when are the best times for your resolution to happen. If getting fit is one of your goals, try and match your free time up with a time of day you will feel motivated and energetic to exercise. Some people are better at getting up and getting active in the mornings before work, whereas others feel more motivated immediately after; tailor your routine to you. Remember to be flexible with your schedule and take into account that circumstances may arrive that mean you can’t follow your schedule. And don’t forget to take rest days. Try and engage in a variety of activities on your route to your new year’s goals to keep things interesting.
Support and accountability
We set New Year’s goals to better ourselves, but relying solely on our own motivation can make it an isolatory experience. Chat with friends, family members and colleagues to see if any of their New Year’s goals match with yours. By finding others who share similar goals, you can share progress, tips and help motivate each other to reach your goals. Having a group of people who are aware and supportive of your aspirations can help encourage you to keep up with changes and support you when you feel like giving up. Joining groups or getting friends involved can create a support network you can rely on to keep you motivated all the way through the year.
Celebrate big wins and small ones
It’s important to stay focused on the positive actions your New Year’s resolutions bring, rather than the negatives. It can be easy to criticise yourself if you miss a day of your new routine or overindulge in things you should be avoiding. But by focusing on what you’re doing wrong, you are far less likely to want to continue making changes if it only makes you feel sad. Focus on the improvements that come with your new changes, and keep a note of any goals you achieve along the way. Over time you as you notice your positive progress, you can motivate yourself by knowing how far you’ve come.
New Year’s resolutions don’t have to change your life. But stating to yourself that you’d like to improve an aspect of your life is the first step towards realising a happy and healthier you. Take time to plan your goals for the new year, focusing on them being realistic and manageable. Celebrate your small victories and big milestones, and don’t get down on yourself if you have a slip-up. 2024 doesn’t need to be a “new you”, but you can take the opportunity to make the most out of the qualities and ambitions you already have. Best of luck!