Losing weight. Improving fitness. Reading more. Drinking less. Quitting smoking. Saving money. Etcetera. Etcetera. The endless list we are all ever-so familiar with.
It is not uncommon for us humans, to take this time of year to better ourselves on some level.
But why is it so hard?
Take a look at your resolutions this year. It is not the actioning of the resolution that causes most problems. It is, by far, the consistency! A weekly, daily, hourly mental commitment to focus on breaking bad habits and/or adopting better ones. It’s tough! A recent Strava report claims New Year’s Resolutions ‘Quitters Day’ is dubbed January 19th; not EVEN three weeks into the year! Shocking and yet I can absolutely relate.
In a past life, for over 15 years I worked in a fast paced, high pressured job in media and events – early mornings, late nights, demanding clients. As far as my resolutions go; well… the best of intensions were there, but honestly even reaching January 19th really would have been a struggle for me. And, of course, you never count January 1st, right?!
Quitting on my resolutions was perfectly warranted and justified.
“I work too hard”, “I just don’t have the time”, “I don’t have the energy”, “It’s raining”.
Last year, I decided to put my health first. Being a life coach, my first step in doing so was to become hyper-conscious of my present self. I realised when it came to thinking about me, not only had I gotten nowhere fast in the past, but year on year I was on an ever so slight health decline – increased weight, reduced flexibility and strength; trust me I could go on and not in a self-sabotaging way but in a far more clinical and practical way.
Setting numerous goals throughout the years I found the following to be true when it comes to smashing your resolutions.
Anything worth changing is going to be hard.
You are disrupting your habits you have developed over years!
Your brain is conditioned to feed off your habits and will consistently seek for you to be comfortable and safe, so lying in bed will always feel like a great idea – going out for a run won’t!
Become aware of what your body is telling you and know that you’re not going to die if you feel a bit hungry or avoid that post dinner cigarette!
If you are going to change anything significant in your life, the way you think about it has to change too.
Top Tip: The excuses will always be there. Listen to them. Acknowledge them. Now focus. Ask yourself ‘where do I want to be in a week, month, year with my goal?’ ‘What do I need to do today to get a step closer?’ And just do it!
It really is that simple.
Anything else is a whole lot of mind drama.
Recommend read: ‘The Compound Effect’ by Darren Hardy.
Detail your goal.
Think of the person you will be when that goal is achieved. How will you act? What will you be thinking? How will you feel? How do you hold yourself? Fully flesh out the idea!
Dr Shannon Irvine explains eloquently the concept of ‘Brain Priming’- teaching you how to shift your mindset to set yourself up for success and achieve your goals. Athletes use brain priming or its equivalent to completely embody being a winner. It’s powerful stuff; all science no fluff!
Top Tip: Take 10mins every single day for you to focus on the person you are going to be once you have achieved that goal and embody their persona today.
Obstacles and strategies.
It’s not going to be plain sailing. Anything worth achieving isn’t. So make a list of all potential obstacles that you predict might be in your way along the road. So if you are struggling with motivation to continue a diet, make a plan to work through each obstacle, for example look at the reasons why you started, find images of people that inspire you, take a walk with a friend to mentally feel better.
Top Tip: Think about how you will handle an obstacle ahead of time. This will make it easier in the moment to move past it.
Calendar your time.
You want to be proactive and reduce the amount of brain power and energy it takes to make an informed decision during the week when it comes to your schedule and your goal commitments. Allow yourself 1 hour on Monday morning or Sunday night to plan your week. Once it’s in the calendar, honour your commitment! You will be chuffed with yourself when you achieve the results you want by the end of the week.
Be as detailed as you can. Focus on the results you want to have achieved by the end of the week and know that it is just done when you follow your calendar.
Top Tip: Putting your to-do list in your calendar (that you honour) will make you do the things you are avoiding.
Measure and celebrate.
It is so easy to lose focus of a long term goal.
Plan in your diary measurable mini goals along the way.
By calendaring as above you will be able to see the mini results regularly, spurring you on to achieve the slightly larger goal at the end of the month, quarter or whatever your timeline is. Make it measurable and recognise it when you have achieved it. Celebrate – it’s a great and often painful journey, but you are doing it and learning so much about yourself a long the way.
Top Tip: Plan your celebrations ahead of time; acknowledge and reward your successes.
And finally, be compassionate with yourself! You know what? We are human – we mess up. It’s OK…move on, own it and don’t get hung up the odd slip. Look at what happened and learn what you can do better next time. Don’t quit! Keep going!
Top Tip: Remember, you are embodying the future you. What would they be advising when you slip up!?
Make 2020 the year to smash your resolutions!