It’s that time of year again… January! The darkest, longest month of the year full of winter storms, minimal daylight and a long time til payday. This is often made worse by the pressure we heap on ourselves to join the ‘New Year, New You’ craze which is almost impossible to avoid! I say; No Need! You’re pretty awesome as you are. Let me explain…
The shops and supermarkets have all this year’s self-help books on prominent display;
‘Cook yourself 3 stone lighter’,
‘Be happier in just 5 easy steps’,
‘Get fit with just a 5 minute workout per day’…
Davina’s latest workout DVD will be on the shelves and all around us will be signs and messages that we need to do better, be better and do more backed up with false promises of easy change. We have to turn ourselves into the image these books, DVD’s and programmes have of us as the perfect human…
New year resolutions
When back at work, everyone will be wishing everyone else a “Happy New Year” in the office kitchen whilst making a cup of tea, followed up with a question about your New Year’s Resolutions and a debate about the merits of resolutions… It’s a almost like a rite of passage into the New Year which we all have to pass…
Now, there is absolutely nothing wrong with aspiring to improve yourself, at any time of year really. And sometimes, the added impetus at the start of a new year can be great for extra motivation to help you succeed. Yet it is also the time of year when we struggle to achieve the changes we seek for ourselves, and for good reason… But the good news is, there is another way.
The trouble starts…
Why do we struggle to stick to New Year’s resolutions? We join the gym only to never set foot in it again after February. We buy the book or DVD only to find it at the bottom of the pile come next Christmas. The list goes on…
Well, for starters we probably didn’t define what we wanted to achieve very well. Come the 31st of December, we tell ourselves we will be Fitter, Healthier, a better sister/brother/friend/parent/colleague, try harder etc. Rarely do we follow up by telling ourselves exactly how we will know when we’ve achieved that goal. And the goal itself wasn’t very specific in the first place, and possibly it was such a big goal that it is even harder to achieve.
We tell ourselves we will start from the 1st of January, even though we often feel absolutely wrung out on that day after a week of socialising, partying and possibly a big NYE blow out. Often, the best way to spend this day is a quiet day indoors, maybe a walk on the beach or in the forest, maybe a roast dinner in the pub. And often that means we didn’t manage to stick to our resolutions straight away, which may lead to us giving up there and then.
Even if we forgive ourselves that first slip up, or if we decided to start a day or so later, January is full of hurdles and obstacles for us to overcome with the added pressure of our resolutions. Getting back into the swing of normal, every day life and routine can be difficult after a week or 2 of wondering what day of the week it even is! Adding in extra pressure to achieve new things can be very difficult! Soon we feel tired, demotivated and nothing changes.
‘So you mentioned there is another way?’, I hear you ask? Well yes!
Firstly, when setting ourselves goals we often focus on what we perceive as being negative about ourselves. That in itself is yet another factor making it more difficult for us to achieve our goal. Why not start with looking at everything that is good about ourselves? Because, believe it or not, you are an awesome person! You are kind, caring, a great sister/brother/friend/parent/colleague. Your strength may lie in solving problems, keeping calm in a difficult situation, being punctual, being helpful. You may do something helpful for your neighbour/friend/relative/colleague often as part of your normal life, but it’s become so normal that you don’t see the positive impact you make anymore.
It’s only normal! We are wired to remember negatives more than positives (opens in new tab). But that doesn’t mean you can’t focus on the positives.
So, why not focus on the good things we do, the good things we are and the positive impact we make. Notice those things and build on those, do more of those. Be kind to yourself and praise yourself. Once you start doing that, the other stuff will get easier too because when you start to stumble on the way to a new goal, you will also be able to see how far you’ve come already.
Now that we’re focusing more on the positives, another useful thing to do is to start tracking your habits. Ultimately it is our habits which determine what we manage to change in our life. Simply by identifying and tracking the small things we do on a regular basis, we can come up with manageable goals to make changes to our habits.
When looking to achieve new things or make changes, goals are still absolutely key. It’s how we set ourselves goals is what will make the difference:
- Taking a positive approach,
- including things that really matter to you,
- relating your goals to your habits,
- ensuring goals are broken down into manageable chunks,
- making sure they are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound
- understanding what your success looks like
All these form part of setting good goals.
My free e-Magazine is full of helpful tools and worksheets to help you set good goals and a journal/planner template to help you plan and track habits, so don’t miss it!