New Year. New Resolutions.

We are almost a month into the New Year and many of us might be evaluating the effectiveness of our resolutions. The New Year traditionally signifies new beginnings, a fresh start and possibly a chance to even start again from something that didn’t quite go to plan in the past.

Every year, most of us set ourselves a resolution that we hope to achieve within the year. According to the recent ComRes poll via The Telegraph the most common New Year’s resolutions are as follows:

  1. Exercise more (38 per cent)
  2. Lose weight (33 per cent)
  3. Eat more healthily (32 per cent)
  4. Take a more active approach to health (15 per cent)
  5. Learn new skill or hobby (15 per cent)
  6. Spend more time on personal wellbeing (12 per cent)
  7. Spend more time with family and friends (12 per cent)
  8. Drink less alcohol (12 per cent)
  9. Stop smoking (9 per cent)
  10. Other (1 per cent)

Alas, if only it were as easy to stick to our resolutions as it was to make them. On average, according to the ComRes poll, 80% of resolutions will fail by the time it gets to the second week of February. Personally, what I find easier when it comes to resolutions is to set something realistic and small, something that you know can achieve within that year. So even if you have a big resolution it’s more achievable to break it down and create smaller resolutions or goals within that. Kind of like a tick list!

When we create a resolution that’s too big or even unrealistic it simply makes it harder for us to achieve and then this affects our mood and outlook towards the resolution. We can start to feel unaccomplished; negative thoughts enter our mind and ultimately we might decide to give up on the whole idea. Constantly thinking about not achieving the resolution or feeling like we’re not getting anywhere with it pre-determines negative thoughts which then bring our mood down, and when we feel this way, we are unlikely to be able to motivate ourselves towards achieving new things.

An article by Huffington Post suggests;

“When resolutions are too ambitious, we struggle to change our habits, become discouraged when we fail and ultimately give up altogether.”

Another reason to create smaller resolutions is that we feel less pressurised to achieve them. Where having overambitious resolutions might make us feel like we have to have an all-or-nothing outcome, ‘bitesized’ resolutions give us a confidence boost which often encourage us to pursue our goals further! If we miss a small target, we should be able to forgive ourselves and try to get rid of any guilty feelings as quickly as possible. Guilt will push us away from feeling motivated into disappointed with ourselves and discouraged from trying again. The point of this idea is to not create so much pressure for ourselves as this will only lead to negative thoughts and we are setting ourselves up for failure before we even begin!

According to the American Psychological Association, ways to make your New Year’s Resolution stick and stay on track is to do the following;

  • Start small
  • Change one behaviour at a time
  • Talk about it
  • Don’t beat yourself up about it and ask for support

Talking about your experience with your friends and family can have a positive effect to achieving your resolution. Using the above can help us achieve our resolutions but I would say that the most important would be to not criticise ourselves if we fall off the wagon for a moment and accept that slip-ups are completely normal and okay and forgivable! And asking for support doesn’t mean we’re less capable of achieving our goals – it actually takes huge amounts of courage.

So what do we do if mess up our resolutions?  For example, If you have a resolution which it to lose weight and you break the resolution by eating something you shouldn’t – an idea to come up from this is to get rid of the guilt; so doing something good for yourself which will impact your mood and hopefully make you feel better for the ‘bad’ that you’ve just done. But remember, not completely sticking to our resolutions shouldn’t deter us from thinking we can still achieve them!

Changing our perceptions of New Year’s Resolutions and taking time to consider what is realistic for us can form an important part of us being kind and compassionate towards ourselves; vital ingredients for self-care! Stay tuned for further insights into how we can show ourselves more self-care as we prepare for a month of self-care strategies throughout February! After all, Valentine’s Day is equally about showing ourselves love as well as our nearest and dearest