New Year New You – Ten top tips for turning resolutions to reality
Monthly column for Lymington.com by Sue Leach, owner of the Natural Health Hub Lymington
Lots of people will have decided that 2018 is a year to put well and truly behind them. Plus, right now you may be feeling remorse after too much indulgence over Christmas!
New Year is a time for new purpose!
For a variety of reasons you may be thinking about New Year resolutions to improve your life, set goals or achieve an aspiration.
Here are 10 steps we’d like to share, for turning those resolutions into reality.
First big tip, the biggest: set time aside to plan
And remember, small steps for big lifestyle changes
Set aside time, a decent amount of time.
Make a cuppa, grab a pen and pad… and plan. New Year resolutions are no good if they are simply a wishlist like lose weight, have a better work/life balance, drink less, eat better.
It’s crucial to put thought, emotion and planning into your objectives. Jumble your ideas down, revise and reshape them, then write down specific goals (we suggest three) and, in detail, exactly how you are going to execute them. It is crucial that you have your goals written down with your masterplan on how to achieve them, in a form and a place that you can refer to them. No one’s saying you will keep to them to the letter, but you stand so much more chance of achieving them if you’ve planned in detail and you find you’ve slipped back one step on the way to the top of your ladder! (Or put another way if you’ve lost just one part of the jigsaw that makes up the big picture of your masterplan.)
To decide on your priorities ask yourself:
- How important is this goal to you? Give yourself a score out of 10 and if it’s below 5, then this probably isn’t a top resolution for you.
- How convinced are you that you will achieve it? Again a score out of 10, and if it’s below 5, then be honest with yourself – you ain’t going to achieve it.
- Why are you doing it?
- What will the consequences be of achieving it?
- How will you know you’ve been successful?
- How will you celebrate your success?
Set yourself a time by which you want to achieve your resolution. Then plan, plan, plan.
Small steps for big lifestyle changes...break a goal down into small steps. If you want to lose 10kg then set targets on the way, week by week, month by month. If your goal is to lose weight and you’ve got a 5km run to enable that, don’t set out to run three times a week straight off. Start with a few lunchtime walks, plus one walk or run a week, and build from there.
Start slowly – changes in lifestyle often begin slowly, with small actions that eventually become healthy habits. There was never a winner who wasn’t a beginner. The road to success will be paved with mini-achievements, but make these steps SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely.
List tasks to do, actions you can take, resources you can call upon to strengthen your resolve to achieve your goal, and/or make the mini-steps on the way happen. Then prioritise which of these you will do when.
Tip Two - give yourself a reason
Set goals that make you want to jump out of bed of a morning! It can help to find a reason to really motivate you. Research shows that people wanting to lose weight who have tried every diet known to man manage it when they attach an emotional motivation to it: such as…
I want to be a good role model for my children
I want to inspire my friends and family
I want to make a difference to those who are struggling
I want to have the energy and health to play with my children and grandchildren and see them grow up
I want to look after myself in the best way I can
Tip Three - use the power of three
Set no more than three goals at a time. Research shows the human brain can only really focus on three things at once. There’s a symmetry about three: morning, afternoon and night: faith, hope and charity: gold, silver, bronze: Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Powerful speakers always talk in threesomes… like Winston Churchill: ‘Never give up, never ever give up, don’t ever give up’.
Advertising trades on the fact that the human brain assimilates three choices or threesomes best: like the Kellogg’s slogan for Rice Krispies: Snap, Crackle and Pop, which has been run and run since the 1930s.
A triangle is the most stable shape in geometry, which is why bridges and buildings that must carry a lot of weight have structural elements based on triangles.
So use the power of three to your advantage in achieving your goals.
Tip Four - Commit!
Timetable your steps, and make those dates a commitment – a weekly class that is sacrosanct, a weekend away that is booked, an arrangement with the family that everyone knows they have to keep to.
Telling a friend or friends always helps make the goal real – the more you say it out loud the more real it will become, and the more people you tell the more you’ll have supporters around you who can encourage you and help you celebrate the mini-achievements on the way. Better still, see if you can rope in a friend into booking an event or doing a regular class with you. It’s always good to have a partner in crime and it is human nature not to want to let anyone down!
Tip Five - Foresee your obstacles
What may hold you back from achieving your New Year resolutions? What blocks or obstacles could stand in your way? Be honest, we all self-sabotage – but being aware of the blockers, barriers and obstacles that you inflict on yourself will help you break them down.
So… how might you overcome these blocks?
Tip Six - Say no
You’ve set your goals. So now decision making is easy: just say no to anything that doesn’t help you achieve that goal, that doesn’t serve your purpose. Take a leaf out of the book of career high-flyers, who operate single mindedly, just doing what they set out to each day and not frittering their energy on the rest. That means you go out to the exercise class you’ve timetabled rather than hoovering or clearing the washing. The cleaning and washing will get done all the more quickly if you’re geed up after you’ve done something you want.
Tip Seven - Get rid of the energy vampires
Spend your time around people who support you and love you without judgment and question. Stay away from the vampires who suck the life-blood out of you, make demands on you or manipulate you into doing things you’d prefer not to. They weaken your foundation and make you lose energy and commitment. Don’t let anyone keep you from being who you want to be!
Tip Eight - Make affirmations - aloud
Another way you can definitely help yourself is by making affirmations. Research shows that people who make positive affirmations not only have more self-belief, they are also more likely to achieve their objectives. Over the years we tend to get into unhelpful patterns of thinking, and think negatively about ourselves and situations, generally due to our experiences. Using positive self-statements can help us develop a new attitude to ourselves and our situations.
Choose a statement, beginning with I and in the present tense, and repeat, repeat, repeat throughout the day, every day, of every week, of every month. Anything from ‘I am determined and successful’ to ‘I am a unique and special person’ to ‘I have strength’. It may help to write your positive affirmation on a card and carry it around with you. We like the book Ordering from the Cosmic Kitchen which enables you to make fully fledged affirmations specific to you and what you want from life.
Tip Nine - clear mess, clear mess, clear mess
Eyes forward, you want to achieve your goals. So it’s crucial to clear mess. Do it today, again tomorrow, and again the next day and the next. Just as energy vampires suck your confidence, mess saps your energy. We all spend time, emotions and energy dealing with mess. That may be stacks of paper on your dining table, clothes that don’t fit or serve any more, cupboards too full of stuff, the scissors that are always upstairs when you most often need them downstairs, the paperwork that is not properly filed so you take ages finding it when you need it next. This includes mental clutter too: when is your MOT due? Which day of the month does the credit card bill need to be paid? Does your phone properly sync to your other devices to save you time looking things up? New Year is a good opportunity to streamline life and clear messes. (This may become a goal in its own right!)
Tip Ten - Look for help
No one is expecting you to achieve your New Year resolutions exactly as you envisaged – don’t put that pressure on yourself! But if you have set yourself goals you believe in passionately, with reasons behind them that really make you want to achieve them, and you’ve planned your path to success, then you’ll have invested the energy into your resolutions that will make a few setbacks merely small irksome pebbles on a well-trodden path.
Recruiting specific help can be really helpful too! This may be in the form of motivational blogs or books, or people who can help you.
It is always easier to achieve your goals if you have someone, be it a coach or mentor or friend, on your side to keep you motivated and on target.
And here’s where we can come in too if you’d like!
The Natural Health Hub is my brainchild which I opened in 2017 to provide a central Lymington drop-in centre of excellence in complementary therapies. It's a place where high-calibre practitioners now gather together and collaborate to provide support and therapies, classes and courses in everything from yoga to mindfulness and lots more. It’s a haven of tranquility for everyone to come for advice and holistic healing – physical, emotional or spiritual.
Upcoming classes and courses at the Natural Health Hub which can help you to make and keep your resolutions include the following (click the links for the details):
Call us on 01590 670955 or just come along in person and find out more: we’re off Lymington High Street between Halifax and Dogs Trust, follow the intriguing narrow passageway until it ends in a lovely courtyard and look for the welcoming white building on the right at the far end.
Sue Leach, Owner, The Natural Health Hub
PS It’s also important to start a success log to chart your progress towards your goals. Have you done something in alignment with your goal today/this week? Pat yourself on the back, timetable treats at regular intervals. Write down a victory daily.
And never ever forget how much you achieve each day, every single day!