New Year’s Resolutions: Harder Than You Think?

New Year's Resolutions can lose focus quickly

New Year’s Resolutions can lose focus quickly

By 9.20am, last Monday had already been described as ‘the most depressing day of the year’. The majority of people dragged themselves out of their warm festive beds, put on their work clothes and masks and head out into the early morning mist to reluctantly revive the working world. As I’m self employed, I should have felt none of this dread (after all I chose my work) and be up and at ’em. Perhaps it’s the lurgy I’ve recently struggled through, or perhaps it was the grim chill of the day, but I peeked out the window with some trepidation that morning.

Maybe this sounds familiar. Many of us will have swigged our last glass of wine a few days ago and confidently declared that was our last sip til February. Many might have set their alarm early that Monday morn with the full intention of going for a jog before work to start shifting those Christmas pounds. I have a 2015 business plan (all coloured in, of course) and the Daily List sits expectantly beside my elbow like a dog waiting for walkies. Despite all this planning, things somehow still seem scarily unsure, and going back to the way things were done in 2014 seems like a better, safer strategy, especially if it involves a glass of wine and hitting the snooze button.

New Year’s Resolutions signal a collective desire to finally cast off things that aren’t working, to embrace new activities or ways of thinking. There are plenty of well researched blogs out there than I’m sure made excellent first-day-back reading to analyse and justify why we aren’t ‘feeling it’, but here’s my suggestion. All this juicy positivity often glosses over the real issues. We fail to tackle the roots of our inertia even as we slide back into it and watch our new gym membership whack a big hole in our bank balance. We know exercise is good, we know we don’t do enough… so why don’t we? What’s missing?

Remember that over 3/4 of us fail to achieve resolutions in an average year. That might be because we are weak and feeble beings. But it also might be because it’s actually much harder than we think to change. We draw up lists during party conversations as if it’ll be easy to suddenly discard thoroughly embedded habits and challenge complex reward systems that may trace back to childhood. We then beat ourselves up for falling at the first (or second, or third) hurdle, and then bind ourselves closely to others feeling the same, convincing each other that, because we formed the resolution while drunk, it doesn’t really count.

So how big is that challenge we are giving ourselves? Losing weight will change the numbers on the scales, and will hopefully make you feel more energised. But it will also change the way you see yourself (for better or worse), the clothes you wear, the way people react to you. You will have to be stronger at the buffet, not just for January, but for ever. That’s lifestyle change. People will continue to jealously bleat ‘Ooh you are good, I can’t resist you know’ as they wave a delicious buttermilk muffin under your slathering chops. And many people simply haven’t considered this, or aren’t ready for such far reaching effects. It’s all too overwhelming, which sends us scurrying back under the duvet once more, muffin in hand (when it really gets bad).

Often it’s fear, not of changing one thing, but of the changes that one change could bring to your whole life. When you put it in that context, no wonder it’s a new Year resolution – these things can’t be tackled in a few short weeks. Sometimes, if they dare to break it down, many people just aren’t ready for the change.

However, if you think you are one of the ready ones, that your time is NOW, perhaps considering the following questions, might help you along. Using the example of a “New Healthy You” resolution:

1. What does a ‘well’ or ‘healthy’ you look like? How do you stand, how do you move? What does this new healthy you talk about, spend your time doing, who do you spend your time with? If you consider yourself shockingly unhealthy at the moment, chances are that all these things will metamorphose if you are to be successful over the next 12 months. Draw this new person, colour them in, put them in context with other things happening in your life. Make the New You a real, rich vision, not a vague whisper of a tentative promise.

2. Once you have this vision of yourself, take a look in the mirror and ask yourself: what needs to change? Your favourite person is looking right back at you, waiting for the answers – so be honest.
Get more fresh air? That will mean less time infront of the telly. Better eating? That might require a firm change to your shopping habits and perhaps the commitment of a Sunday afternoon creating packed lunches. Compose a list of what needs to change, and you’ll soon find there are a number of skills you will need to learn / investments you need to make if this is going to happen, and they may initially seem totally unrelated to your original idea. Bringing in new things usually means getting rid of old ones.

3. How will I change it? Now you have your list, it is a case of making sure it gets done. Like anything else, plan it, diarise it, get friends to join in, and record it. You run the rest of your life like this, so this is something you are already good at – google searches, iPhone apps, Facebook groups, friends helping each other. Call on all your strengths, ask for help and make a game of it – everything you need to happen starts with you, and I’ll bet that you have more capability than you give yourself credit for.

These are not my top tips, they’re just food for thought. In fact, my top tips for resolution success are actually my resolutions for 2015. Last year was hectic and pressured and my body told me enough was enough by making me sleep through the New Year’s celebrations as it battled and raged against a virus. On the mend now, and I am resolved to give my best shot at these three. Perhaps they will help you as you step out, never to return, onto Resolution Road…

Be gentle – it’s not going to be easy
Be kind – you will have setbacks
Be patient – it will be worth it

Happy New Year – wishing you all the best, wellbeing and success in 2015!

Kathryn xx

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