Tips for Making New Year Resolutions

The New Year is definitely perceived as a time of new beginnings and resolutions. After the excess of Christmas many people try to start afresh in the new year with plans to be more healthy, to do things different or to tackle the a task that has been put on the long finger for months.

However, making new year resolutions is not as straight-forward as it seems and many people who start out with good intentions can set unrealistic goals and quickly lose their motivation. The key to making new year resolutions work is preparation and taking time to think exactly what you want to achieve and why.

Below are some principles for making resolutions work for you:

Review your previous year
Rather than rushing ahead to plan new goals, the first step is to spend time reflecting about last year and how it went for you. Take time to reflect about what went well in 2019 and what was more difficult and challenging. In particular look at:
– what you accomplished
– what challenges you encountered
– and most importantly what you learnt that you want to take with you into 2020.

Set motivating goals
Make sure to set resolutions or goals that are really important and motivating to you. Think about what your values are and what you really want from life.

The more your goals are linked to your deepest passions and concerns the more likely you will work at them.

Often this is about phrasing your goals in a positive way. Rather than saying your new year goal is to ‘get up for a 6am jog’ (not very attractive initially), think of this goal as reflecting  your desire to ‘be fit and healthy and to have a body full of energy’ ( a more motivating prospect).

Set realistic and small goals
Many people run into trouble because their goals are just too hard given where they are starting from and are too difficult to integrate into their life. For example, going for a 6am jog may just not be on for you if you have a busy morning getting to work and/or taking kids to school. But a goal of walking to work or taking your kids to school on foot might be more realistic.

Even simple small steps make all the difference. Your fitness plan could start with resolving to walk up and down the stairs at work rather than using the lift!

Get support
You are more likely to achieve your resolutions if you have the support and involvement of other people. It is far easier to leave the lure of watching TV at home and to attend an evening class if you are going to the class with a friend and he/she is dependent on you giving them a lift!

Be balanced in your resolutions
Most people continually set goals in the same area of their life whether this fitness or work and leave out other important areas in their lives (usually family and friends).

Simple resolutions in personal areas of your life (such as resolving to phone your mother each week or to go swimming with your son) can be easier to achieve and can contribute more to the quality of your life than ‘big’ goals such as training for the marathon.

Write your goals down
It really helps to write your goals down along with the reasons you want them and how they will make a difference to you in your life.

Writing goals down helps you think them through and if you keep the list in a prominent place, this acts as a constant reminder of what you want to achieve.

Set aside a review time each week
Review your progress toward your goals weekly. Read though the list and note what progress you have achieved what challenges you have encountered and what your plans are next week to make sure you keep on track.

This weekly review time, even it is just for a few minutes, can make a real difference.

Prof John Sharry
January 2020

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