January is here, it's a brand new year, and we are all full of commitments, promises and resolutions! Whether you're planning a diet, to exercise more, cut back on the shopping give up smoking or see your friends and family more, the new year is awash with good intentions, and why not! The term 'new year, new you' gets thrown around a lot but what better time to address what we want to change in our lives.
However, if you are anything like me, at 12 pm on January 1st, I'm swearing off junk TV and junk food. However, by 6 pm I am so tired from tidying up from the previous week's activities I am crashed out in front of the TV watching a rubbish re-run I've seen a dozen times tucking into something far from right for me! We are creatures of habit, and although most people will get through at least a day before they crumble, we quite often find ourselves falling back into the same routines. Including the convenience of eating junk food, skipping the gym and missing making that phone call in favour of the next episode of the series you're binge-watching on Netflix.
So we say, not this year! 2017 is a year to stay active, stick to your plans, keep your promises to yourself and prove that you can do it. So, here are a few ideas to keep you motivated through January and well into the year.
Make one change at a time
It's far easier to concentrate on one primary goal than to try and achieve multiple separate ones. Many resolutions, such as losing weight, require more than one action. It's not just about changing the way you eat that you have to think about. You also have to consider how you shop, what exercise programme works best for you, how you will tackle eating out, for example. So although it is one resolution, it will require several decisions. Think about how you would address each of the decisions which make up your primary goal and make that your priority.
Break it up
Turn your one main goal into lots of smaller accomplishments. So instead of your one main goal being 'this year I will get fitter' split that up into 'this week I will go on three runs' and 'those runs will be for half an hour each' and so on and so on. This way you will not only enjoy the feeling of accomplishing your goals by completing lots of little things, but you will find yourself closer to your target with each smaller step.
Making it something you care about
Every one of us has bad habits, but that doesn't mean you 100% have to change them. Just because someone says you watch too much TV or you should go out running more, doesn't mean that it is necessarily the right choice for you. If you make a decision to give something up or change the way you do something for someone body else, how much do you care about it? Probably not a great deal! These kind of resolutions are harder to keep and will most likely be given up on before February 1st. Make it something you care about, this way you will be less likely to quit.
Be prepared to break some habits
Many of us will be choosing resolutions as we have fallen into a rut or picked up bad habits which we have repeated over and over again for a long time, perhaps even for years. So don't feel too disheartened that you can't break a habit of a lifetime in a few days, weeks or months - it can take time. Once you make a decision to change a particular action or behaviour, you'll have to work on it for the rest of your life to maintain (hence the choosing something you care about a bit!).
Do not be so harsh on yourself. Everyone makes mistakes and slips up once in a while, but that is not a reason to give up and go back to your old ways. If you find yourself off track, ask yourself what it is that has made you break your resolution and confront it, dust yourself off and get back on track when you are ready. If you have had a cheat meal on your diet, make up for it by going for an extra run or if you miss a gym session, add in another class the following week. Don't beat yourself up about it, make it up instead.
Get support from friends and family
Having a solid support system will keep you going in the right direction. Whether you're aiming to change the way you eat and you bring in your family or significant other to help or if you are going to hit the gym, then try and buddy up for both mental and physical support. If you are not able to get direct help or struggle to find someone to come on your journey with you, tell your friends and family the details of your resolution so they can keep an eye on you and provide emotional support instead.
Keep working on your goals
Remember this feature is about keeping on top of your goals throughout the year, not just through January. Once you feel the initial spark or motivation disappearing, re-evaluate your goals and see if you can make any changes anywhere to carry on your success and keep on going with your plans. Consider writing a diary or a journal about your ups and downs of your journey. You can refer to this when you are lacking motivation or need a reminder as to what you are trying to achieve.
Good luck with your new year's resolutions and we wish you all a very happy 2017!