Another year has gone by and just like on every other January, it’s time to cue the “new year, new me” memes.
Let’s all roll our eyes together.
Come the end of any year, we go through the same routine: we do a bit of self-evaluation, we take mental notes of things that we succeeded at and things that didn’t go as planned, and then create a list of overly optimistic and somewhat unachievable new year resolutions that we hardly ever follow through to completion.
We can’t help ourselves. Making lists is fun and so is getting excited over ambitious goals and daydreams we think we’ll be able to achieve within the next set of 365 days ahead of us. Sure it’s healthy to identify your weaknesses and make plans to fix them, but if your level of determination begins to run out by the end of the first month, the entire resolution plan ends up being just another failed attempt at self-development and a waste of time.
How many times have you told yourself you were going to change your diet and start exercising more in the new year? And how many times have you given up before you even got used to filling in the ‘date’ section with the right year? You’ve probably even tried to make it more “official” by writing it all over Facebook and Instagram so that you could be accounted for by your friends if you ever decided to change your mind. That hasn’t really worked either, has it?
If you’re really determined to make a change this time (seriously though), here are a few tips that might help you stick to your plans:
- Clearly define what behaviour you want to change. Leave no space for loopholes and ways for you to get out of your initial commitment. Saying you want to “live life to the fullest” isn’t specific enough. You should aim for something along the lines of “give less attention to Netflix and more to your friends and family”
- Quantify your goals. Again, saying you just “want to be healthier” isn’t going to be a good driving force behind your change. Give yourself a clear goal instead, such as “workout at least three times a week, 45 minutes at a time” or “walk a minimum of 10 kilometres every week”. That way it will be easier to track your progress.
- Understand the triggers that cause the undesired behaviour. If boredom leads you to binge-watch an entire season of Breaking Bad and eat copious amounts of cookies, find yourself a new hobby to keep your entertained. Read a book, reply to e-mails and to old unanswered messages in your inbox, take up drawing or writing or even a sport, or simply call an old friend and talk for a while. And if you want to get over your ex, give up drinking for a while to avoid drunk-texting him/her and feeling horrible about it the next day.
- Reflect on the positive outcomes of the new behaviour. If you focus on how good you feel about yourself after engaging in a new behaviour, you are more likely to repeat it until it becomes a habit. If you like the rush of adrenaline that you get after a workout and love the way your old jeans fit again, believe me when I say that you will want to stick to that new routine.
- Remind yourself why you wanted to change. Every once in a while, when you’re feeling like giving up or when you’re struggling to see results, remind yourself of the reasons behind your decision to be a “new you”, keeping in mind that all change requires time. The key is consistency.
So leave your complaints and procrastination aside and leave room for gratitude and satisfaction to fill your life.