It’s the first day of the new year and you’ve decided, much like the years before it, that this year is the year you will get your life together and stick to your plans and goals. You make a list in your head of the things you would like to do and achieve this year. You've already sorted your gym membership and tell yourself to stop ordering the biweekly takeaways. You tell yourself to start saving more and reduce the amount of alcohol you drink. You’re buzzing to start. Let’s make it the best year yet you shout to yourself. January 2nd, 3rd and 4th fly by. You’re sticking to what you said. You’re thinking of cooking the next batch of your meal prep and wondering what gym bootcamp class to try next.
By the end of the week, you wake up feeling a bit tired and achy from the gym. You hit the snooze on your alarm and tell yourself that you just don’t feel like it today. You stay in bed for most of the morning scrolling on Instagram and by the afternoon you start feeling rather peckish. You order that takeaway you’ve been telling yourself not to, but you say that it’s fine to treat yourself, and that you will get back into the swing of things tomorrow.
A few more days pass and you’re slipping further away from your goals. You tell yourself that you’re too busy for the gym, cooking takes too much time and takeaways are just so much easier. Sound familiar? It’s not so easy to stick to resolutions, is it?
It's all about habits. Simply put, old habits are hard to kick and new habits can take some time to form. So how can you stop being an individual that abandons their goals and become one who achieves them?
With more structured goals, self-belief and a plan, you can give yourself the best chance to fulfil your ambitions. Here are 10 things that will help your resolutions stick this year.
1. Be specific with your goals
It’s a well known fact. Trying to take on too much too soon can cause you to overwhelm yourself before you even start. Breaking your goals down into smaller, more achievable goals that you can work towards every day will give you a better chance. That is what progress is. Remember, change doesn’t happen overnight.
2. Write them down
This is massively important. It is really helpful to narrow your focus and clarify what it is you are trying to achieve and why. It also makes it easier to track your progress than a goal you just make up in your head. Writing your goals down makes them tangible, you can visually see them and this can affect how you act. Grab that notepad and write, write, write!
3. Get support
This is a big one. Getting the right support on your journey to reaching your goals is important. It’s up to you whether you share them or not but friends and family who are aware of your plans can really help you achieve them. It can make you more accountable for your actions when you feel like working hard is the absolute last thing you want to do. That extra motivation can help push you across the finish line and progress.
4. Be realistic, are they achievable?
This is vital for putting things into perspective. There is nothing wrong with ambition or pushing yourself to the limits but remember, your goals need to be attainable and realistic for them to be achievable.
Always remind yourself that you are trying to build a habit - it can take a while. This means that you need to give yourself the time to actually do it. Those small wins along the way should be the centre of your focus, this helps to reinforce the progress that you are making.
6. Stay positive
Change is never easy. If you think that you cannot achieve what you set out to do or constantly focus on the negative side, you will only discourage yourself. Positive vibes are a must, always.
7. Track your progress
If you keep track of your improvements and progress towards your goals, reflecting can give you the belief you sometimes need when things get difficult. It also can help to reinforce your self belief. If you are aware that you are making some real progress, the more resistance you’ll have to suddenly giving up.
8. Beware of obstacles
Temptations and challenges are always there. They can easily derail you from your path to achieving your goals. It could be something as simple as after work drinks that can end up as a midweek night out, causing you to damage your diet, your sleep and your wallet. This may sound a little weird but try to plan for the obstacles ahead, especially in the first few weeks. Try to brainstorm what could potentially distract you and how you could navigate through these distractions.
9. Start when ready
This is a simple one. There’s honestly no need to start everything on January 1st, don’t rush yourself. Plan and work on your goals when you are ready (just don’t put it off another year).
10. Remember your why
Perhaps the most important point on this list. Knowing the core and purpose of your goals can really help you push through those moments of self doubt. Write it down. What is the reason for your goal? What is your why?
The annual resolution ritual doesn’t always have to be a disappointment. Remember to celebrate the small wins and be kind to yourself and support others, the journey is sometimes just as important as the destination. Believe in yourself and make 2022 a year of progress and positivity!
Dr Alexander, MB ChB, BSc (Hons) - Senior Writer