On January 1 across the world, millions of us make lofty promises to ourselves. We’ll get healthy, go to gym, drink less wine and eat more greens. We plan to be perfect.
By February, most resolutions are gathering dust as we shake off the holiday excess and wrestle with the reality of life's responsibilities. Why is it so hard to follow through?
According to psychologists, even though you might want fast results, you procrastinate. Sustained effort is key to success, so by wanting too much and therefore spreading yourself too thin, you end up feeling defeated even before you begin.
Resolutions are a healthy way to reboot your life – but it is important to be realistic. The secret is to fashion long-term, achievable goals that contribute towards health and happiness. Following are some tips to help you get started:
1. Your attitude determines your altitude. The journey is just as important as the destination. It’s no use mentally committing to a 5-mile run three times a week if you’re going to think about it, rather than do it. Instead, stop thinking and start doing: get up, put on your trainers and just exit the front door.
2. Baby steps. Taking one step forward is infinitely better than standing still. If a 5-mile run seems daunting, begin with a 2-3 mile walk.
3. Focus on pleasure, not pain. Diets are a common New Year goal – but why turn your meal times into a prison sentence? Sustainable, health-boosting plans can be fun, affordable and delicious. Many people associate ‘eating healthily’ with deprivation, rather than delight. Turn those thoughts around – each healthy bite you’re choosing is a gift to yourself.
4. If it's not broke…why fix it? Perhaps you’re feeling content with life ‘as is’ right now, so don’t fall into the trap of confusing ‘wants’ with ‘needs’. Modern society is aspirational – everything must be bigger and better. Sometimes, though, things are lovely just as they are. That’s where gratitude comes in. Be grateful for the most insignificant parts of your life. Each act or thought of gratitude eventually fills your happiness tank.
5. Swap bad habits for good ones. You might not want to give up your Wednesday croissant and hot chocolate fix, but you can. Just replace it with an a healthier, alternative ‘treat’. Many of my clients say swapping out their pastry for two squares of 75% dark chocolate and a handful of raw nuts was a lot easier than expected. Choose your habits wisely – don’t allow them to choose you.
6. Tell a friend. Voicing the possibility for change makes it more likely to happen. If you have someone in your life to hold you accountable, you are much more likely to be successful in reaching your goals. Accountability is an important part of the role of a health coach; to keep you motivated and moving towards whatever it is that you want for yourself and your life. Real goals aren’t like wishing on stars – you don’t have to keep them a secret. And having someone behind you makes winning that much easier.
7. Ignore the news. While keeping abreast of current affairs is important, there’s no need to depress yourself. Being wired to the world is addictive. You’re far more inclined to feel out of control, unhappy and blue if you’re constantly bombarded with bad news. Have an information-free day a week (and yes, that includes Facebook) will help you feel more spiritually rested.
8. Record it. Seeing your resolutions in black and white increases your chances of sticking to them. Keep them visible where you can read them daily. Don’t be fanciful – be practical. The fridge, your daily diary or the car are great spots.
9. Be kind to yourself. The slightest improvement is worth a cheer. Be proud of and acknowledge what you’ve achieved, no matter how small. Drinking three extra glasses of water a day, or de-cluttering a corner of the living room are as much steps in the right direction as achieving a promotion at work.
10. Explore, expand, experiment. Perhaps you have no idea where you’re headed. That’s okay. Treat the New Year as a chance to work out what makes you happy – and how to get there. This might be a good time to create a bucket list and tick something off. You never know what’s out there (and inside you) until you give it a go!
If you’ve decided to make 2018 the year to fix those nagging health issues or lose a bit of weight, don't forget to take advantage of my free 20-minute consultation to explore how Nutritional Therapy can help you in reaching your goals!