For many people January is a time to take stock and make some improvements. It’s all very well making resolutions but how do we make resolutions that stick? A good way to go about this is to look at the main elements of your life and consider if there’s anything you’d like to change.
Think about your life in these areas:
- Work and business
- Family and relationships
- Leisure and hobbies
- Community (how you connect with the wider world)
- Health and wellbeing
Write down anything you’d like to be different. Now you’ve got your ideas for what you want to change, here are my tips for creating resolutions that stick.
Rather than tackle everything at once, it’s wise to focus on no more than three resolutions at once. Research suggests that 80% of resolutions fail by February, so it makes sense to stay focussed rather than spread yourself too thinly trying to keep lots of promises.
Make them SMART
Focus on SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relative and Time-bound) rather than general intentions. It’s easier to stick to a resolution to ‘only check emails for 20 minutes three times a day’ rather than ‘check email less’.
Make them Positive
A positive resolution is easier to keep than a negative one. So if you want to get healthier, focus on what you will do rather than what you won’t. Psychologically we feel more in control if we’re making a positive decision rather than feeling like we’re depriving ourselves. If you’re giving something up, substitute it for something else. Rather than ‘cut out chocolate’ try ‘eat fruit or nuts as a snack when peckish’.
Build Them into Your Routine
Habits slip when they get lost under the million other things on our to-do lists. So you need to make space in your life for it, regularly, until it feels natural. You may have heard of the say that it takes 21 days to create a new habit. Reality is that you need to keep doing that new habit for a good few weeks longer to really strengthen those new brain nuerons so keeps things going for a good 6 weeks instead.
However long you do them for, building that new habit into your routine is important. If you’ve decided to take up running, or gym membership, for example, set times and days of the week when you’ll go. Put it in your diary and stick to it.
Whether it’s by yourself in a planner that you review daily, or with an accountability buddy who you’re in touch with every week, keep yourself on track. Regular check-ins will remind you that you’re the one responsible for your goals and making them happen. Motivation in the New Year might get you started with your resolutions, but staying accountable will be helpful when you’re struggling or having a tough day.
It’s easier to keep resolutions when we remember why we want to achieve them. Set goals for yourself that you truly want – then even if the going gets rough for a while, you can remind yourself why it’s important.
For example, if you’ve decided to get up early every morning for yoga or meditation, and you find it’s becoming a drag, think about what’s behind your desire to meditate or master warrior pose. Maybe it’s about feeling less stressed and more able to cope. Remember why that’s important to you, and what difference it will make to your life and to those around you.
That deeper why is powerful and will help you keep going when an extra twenty minutes in bed is tempting.
Different techniques work for everyone – I’d love to know what your resolutions are and what helps you stick to them. Do share in the comments!