Every year on New Year's Eve, millions of people around the world, including myself, make New Year Resolutions (NYR).
Quite often they are goals we know we should strive for, but for one reason or another in the weeks following, we don't follow through and attain them.
No-one is perfect - we all drop the ball. It's only human to do so. In the end though it's about dusting ourselves off, and getting back on the bike again (or for the first time as the case may be!)
For example, for my NYR I plan to hit the gym again, after an absence of regular attendance for almost 18 months!
After a few injuries which kept me legitimately out of the gym, once recovered I would then always make excuses for not going - too tired, too close to meal time, too close to bed time, not a designated "gym day" etc.
Even though any day is as good as another to start a resolution, I'm taking this traditional opportunity (and it's surrounding enthusiasm) to kick mine off to a good start!
Many people fail their NYR within weeks (or even days) of setting them, but some simple tips from the experts can keep us all on course to seeing those NYR through to 2012!
So here we go:
Set a realistic and attainable goal
I can't set a goal that I will be built like Arnold Schwarzenegger by the end of year, it's just not gonna happen. Setting something realistic for you is important - if you aim too high, you will feel defeated when you don't reach the goal, but aim too low, the disappointment is that you don't reach your full potential.
"Plan" to be successful
Planning is the biggest reason we all fail to complete a goal that we set. Setting out in detail for yourself, the how/when/where/why/who of your NYR, will really start to cement things in place. For me, I already know "why" I need to head back to the gym, but for the rest of the planning that means for a starters - paying for my yearly gym membership and working on my diet (how/where/who) and scheduling in the diary what days I will go (when).
Leave last year's baggage back in 2010
We all carry the guilt of failed attempts and carry forward excuses for why changing is "too hard". Identify what it was that kept you from getting what you wanted this year, acknowledge what it has done and taught you, and then leave everything except the education of the experience back in 2010! It's a hard concept to put into practice, but it's important to keep as much off your back as possible as you strive to make your NYR a reality. I've made a list of those excuses that have stopped me from going to the gym - and I've told myself I can't use them. Any excuses I will have to make now will have to be really silly to keep me from getting there!
Focusing on a select amount of NYRs
Some people say only have 1 NYR, while some say have a list of 10 (because they say you will not keep all 10 anyway). I'm of the belief that you should aim for 2 or 3 resolutions. It will all depend on your time, energy and other commitments of course, but 2-3 is a reasonable amount of goals to be have going at one time. If this is your first time, or maybe you have never managed to keep a NYR before, starting with 1 resolution this year might be good, but I would warn you, don't underestimate yourself! We all can multi-task in our lives - and this is just another time when you can multi-task!
Let the world know your NYR
Let friends/family/strangers know your NYR, as they are the biggest supporters for you if you start to slip. I've just declared to you all that I'm hitting the gym again this year, and well, you can all hold me to it!
It's hard when you come across those events/tastes/smells/situations that trigger off a behaviour you are trying to beat. For me, one of the many reasons I used to skip gym was because a favourite TV show was on. My way of avoiding using this excuse in 2011 is to avoid looking at the TV schedule to start with, but failing that, know that I can always watch the TV show online later when I'm home.
Start something different
For those resolutions that are trying to do away with a bad habit, try replacing it with something good. If eating junk food each night is your vice, try promising yourself to make healthy meals from a recipe book a certain amount of times a week. If doing something different is already your NYR, then do something different as a reward for keeping on track. I'm thinking of maybe as a periodical reward, a massage or a new set of clothes, but tailor your treats to yourself, and find a new one if needed!
Check in periodically to see how your NYR is going
It's easy to fall into the routine of completing your NYR, but checking in to see if it's achieving the results you want is important. For example, if losing weight, you may want to check if you are still on track to meet your weight loss goal by year's end, and if not, adjust your workout and diets accordingly. I see checking your progress as really a big part of the "planning" stage. If you are detailed enough when planning on what you need to do and where you need to be by a certain date, it gives you a reference to your progress. It doesn't have to be as rigid as that, but monitoring your progress is important. And if you are not keeping to the NYR any longer, don't sweat it, just get back to it again!
Place reminders for yourself
Reminders keep you focused and help your supporters keep you focussed too. Sometimes that's a picture on your wall, desk at work or the fridge. Whatever it is, it's important to remind yourself of your NYR, as its certainly easy to put it on the back-burner and forget about it. For me, I'm placing my gym sessions as an entries in my iPhone's calendar (with event alarm!) to remind me that I should be at the gym!
Be patient with yourself!
We all get impatient with ourselves when we don't achieve results right away, or we get back to bad habits we had successfully cut off on January 1st. Don't beat yourself up about it. Keep your spirits up. Take a few minutes to reflect on what you have achieved already, because you and I know, sometimes even just getting started was the hardest part of all!
So with all that in mind, I hope you manage to keep your NYR through to 2012!
Cheer's to the end of 2010 and to the start of a better 2011!
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