The bells have chimed in the New Year. You’ve sung Auld Lang Syne (your first resolution is to learn the words properly for next year).
In the morning, when the celebrations are over, you’ll put your New Year’s resolutions into action and embark upon your reformed lifestyle. This time next year you’ll be slim, nicotine-free, super-fit and a millionaire.
Roll on to the end of January. Your enthusiasm has waned and you’re wondering if you’ve set yourself too great a task. ‘Who wants to be a thin, fit millionaire anyway?’ you say as you tuck into left-over Christmas candies, light a cigarette and order a take-out on your credit card.
Here’s how to ensure it won’t happen to you this year.
Choose one resolution. Don’t overload yourself with too many promises. One well-kept resolution will have a ripple effect that can change other areas of your life. For example, if you quit smoking, you’ll feel healthier and more positive. This leads on naturally to being more active and losing weight.
Make your resolution achievable. If you are a size 14 there’s no point resolving to become a size 6 by May. You will fail and the sense of failure will not help you achieve your aim. Set a realistic target. Aim to drop one dress size by summer. When you achieve your goal, you’ll feel wonderful and have the confidence to change other aspects of your life.
Don’t choose the same resolution as last year. If you failed once, then you’ll start out with a sense of doom. You may have the same goal, but modify your resolution. If last year your resolution was to diet, this year vow to walk half an hour every day. The end result? You lose weight.
Make sure your resolution is for YOU. Perhaps your boyfriend is hinting that you lose a few pounds or your husband is threatening divorce if you don’t quit smoking. Make a New Year’s resolution for yourself and nobody else. Attempting a lifestyle change under pressure will make you feel resentful and eventually lead to failure.
Once you’ve decided on your New Year’s resolution, write it down. Make a little ritual if you like. Think of it as a formal pact with yourself.
Break down your resolution into specific steps. Write them down and pin this list where you can see it. Put a time limit for each step. For example, you’ve resolved to start working out. Decide that you will go to the gym once a week for 3 months. After 3 months you’ll up your visits to twice weekly. After another 3 months you’ll add in a weekly aerobics class. In this way you will build enthusiasm for your New Year’s resolution rather than starting with a bang then fizzling out.
As the year proceeds, chart your progress. Give yourself a small reward when you achieve each step of your New Year’s resolution plan. Don’t reward yourself with the thing you are trying to quit, be it cigarettes, alcohol or candy. Treat yourself to something unrelated to your goal.
A new habit takes 21 days to develop and 6 months to cement into your lifestyle. If you slip up, don’t see this as failure but simply a temporary set-back. Two steps forward and one step back is still progress.
The better you plan, the better your chance of success. Make your resolution last not just January, but the whole year.