It’s that time of year again, the end of one year and the beginning of a new year, when we start to focus on the year ahead, and what we hope to achieve. Like the changing of the seasons, the New Year, gives us an opportunity for change and to move into a new ‘space’ where anything’s possible. However, before looking ahead to the New Year it’s good to firstly reflect on the year that was. My previous blog ‘How was Your Year?’ gives you some different perspectives and ways to assess the past year.
So why do many people find that their New Year’s Resolutions don’t last? According to research, only 8% of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions. There are a number of reasons why they don’t last.
Setting too many. While it’s great to be enthusiastic and motivated to make positive changes in your life, too many goals can feel confusing and overwhelming and can lead to inertia and a sense that’s it just all too difficult.
Unrealistic expectations. It is important to be positive and set challenging goals that stretch us, but setting ones that you will be realistically unable to achieve will set you up to fail.
All or Nothing approach. Often we set goals that have a tangible outcome, such as ‘lose 20 kilo’, give up smoking, stop drinking alcohol’, etc, and while these can be useful for some people, they can also set up black and white thinking, so that achieving a weight loss of 10 kilos, or significantly reducing your smoking and alcohol intake will make you believe you have ‘failed ‘ to achieve your resolutions.
De-railed by small setbacks. Newton’s law of physics state that ‘for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction’, which means that whenever we try to make positive changes in our lives, there will be an opposite ‘reaction’ which will hold us back or force us to take a step backwards. How often do we ‘give up’ when it all becomes too hard, or we’re not achieving results fast enough?
Not ‘holistic’ enough. Most people’s New Year’s resolutions are generally around our health and wellbeing, and usually focus on things like weight, fitness, and negative habits. However these do not consider other important factors which will complement these goals, such as our ability to manage stress effectively, our overall confidence and self-esteem, and our relationships with others, all of which can either support or sabotage our goals.
How do we set New Year’s Resolutions that will last and allow us to truly flourish in the coming year? As mentioned in my earlier blog, in order to flourish we need to consider five important aspects of our lives. These include positive emotions, engagement, relationships, meaning and purpose and accomplishments. So perhaps it might be helpful to set some resolutions in each of these areas of our lives?
Positive emotions. How will you manage your emotions this coming year? How can you choose to think more positive thoughts rather than repeating habitual negative thoughts and judgements? How will you ensure you take time to determine how to react to situations, rather than simply responding automatically?
Engagement. What activities give you joy, pleasure, a sense of fulfilment and feeling ‘alive’? How do these activities make you feel involved emotionally, physically, intellectually and socially? Make sure you set some intentions which will increase these as much as possible this coming year.
Relationships and Meaningful Social Connections. How can you get the best out of your relationships, and what can you do differently? How might your find some more meaningful social connections, maybe by becoming involved in a positive ‘cause’, joining a new club, or participating in a team sport or activity?
Meaning and Purpose. Our new year’s resolutions are much more likely to be achieved when they are connected to our values and what’s really important to us. Take some time to think about what you want to achieve with your life and how will your resolutions for the coming year contribute to that?
Accomplishments. Often we feel that need to set ‘big’ goals in order to feel a sense of achievement. While these can be good to stretch us and provide a challenge, it’s also important to focus on some smaller accomplishments every day, and also on what you have learnt or gained in the process.
Looking ahead to the new year, here are 10 suggestions you might like to incorporate into your New Year’s resolutions to ensure they are holistic and allow you to truly flourish!
Learn something new every day.
Meditate for at least 10 minutes a day (helps with stress and wellbeing)
Cut back on unhealthy foods and drinks and learn to listen to your body
Spend time alone every day (to just think and recharge)
Cut back on time spent ‘switched on’ to devices and social media.
Practice mindfulness in your day to day activities to be more present ( and reduce stress)
Read an uplifting book (at least once a week/month?)
Get more restful sleep (critical for overall health and wellbeing)
Practice gratitude daily (it helps you stop focussing on what’s missing)
Include ‘baggage’ you want to get rid of in your goals
So how can you make sure you’re one of the 8% of people who actually achieve their New Year’s Resolutions?
Firstly, commit yourself to achieving your goals and not merely writing them down as a wish list and hiding them away in a draw. Hang them up somewhere prominent as a daily reminder of what you have committed yourself to. Visual representation of these goals will also help to reinforce your intentions.
Realise that new goals require internal as well as external changes. What new mindsets, beliefs and patterns do you need to adopt to achieve your intentions? What limiting thoughts and habits do you need to let go of?
Practice makes perfect! Realise that persistence is the key, and don’t give up too early just because you don’t see immediate results. Be kind and patient with yourself!
Given that new goals and intentions can add to an already busy and full life, re-prioritise and get rid of excess activities that aren’t important in order to allow ’space’ for your new intentions
Make this coming year one in which you are truly able to flourish and achieve some positive personal changes. What will you do differently?
Want some help in achieving your goals this year? Click here to find out how