It's that time of year again when we are looking forward to new beginnings. We look inward and identify things about ourselves that could be changed or made better. This year, you might be asking yourself – how can I create meaningful New Year resolutions that will actually stick?A good place to start is by asking – what causes us to fail at our resolutions? Most often, resolutions fail as they are decided without planning for the nuts and bolts, that is, the finer aspects. For example, to quit smoking is a common resolution but often it fails as people ignore planning for side effects, such as cravings, weight gain and concentration lapses, which naturally occur when one stops smoking. So how can you make realistic and achievable resolutions this New Year?
1. Be specific: Making a New Year resolution is simply setting a goal. Be very specific about what you want to do to increase your chances for success. “I'll reduce 10 kilograms in three months between January and March” is a better, more specific resolution, as opposed to just “I'll reduce weight”. Being precise also implies that you have thought about your goal and preconditioned your mind about what you want to achieve.
2.Think big, plan small: Although our goals should be reachable and achievable, one should always dream big. Our hidden source of potential is boundless and infinite, and our capacity is such that we can accomplish whatever we set our pointer at. The art is to follow it step by step, by following our heart and inner guidance, and making our dream our passion. So, break down your resolutions into smaller steps. For example, find out what you would need to do to reduce weight and create a series of steps, like cutting down on sugar, going for a walk twice a week, joining a dance class or making time for exercise four days a week.
3. Think about what’s doable: Instead of just going with the flow, think about what you can realistically achieve in each step. Stretch yourself a little at a time. If you are averse to exercising and are already 20 kilos overweight, reducing 10 kilos in a month may be too much. Start with a modest target that you know you can reach – say, one kilo a week, or exercising for 15 minutes a day.
4. Resolve to do something that you really want to do: Don't make a resolution because “everyone else is doing it”. What really matters to you? Are you truly bothered about your weight or your well-being? Will a meditation class be more meaningful to you than strength training? Will you be happier doing voluntary work for an NGO more than anything else? Resolve to do just that.
5.Spread your tasks out over the year: Plan precisely and spread out small, attainable tasks in detail over your next year’s calendar. Write to-do items for specific days and weeks. Making realistic resolutions with proper mental preparation and planning enhances chances of success. You’re more likely to succeed if your resolution looks like this:
Resolution 1: I'll reduce 10 kilograms in three months between January and March.
Jan 1 to Jan 5: Learn more about living healthy and weight reduction. Make an appointment with a dietitian to discuss nutrition and diet.
Jan 4 & 5: Make a list of food items that the dietician recommends. Visit the grocery store to purchase items needed.
Jan 6: Begin new eating and fitness regimen.
Jan 3 to Jan 10: Identify a good place to train/work out and enroll. Try it out for a month and decide to drop or continue at month’s end.
Last week of Jan: Happy with current training and fitness situation? If not, start looking for alternatives.
and so on...
6.Remind yourself to stay the course: Write your resolution on A4 size papers in bold and hang them in your rooms where you can see them often. Remember it, think about it, and feel the motivation to work towards it. Make up your mind to not give up. If you can't work on your resolution one day, don't let it through you off track. On the next day, pick it up again. Usually it takes 21 days of sticking to a resolution or a new habit to bring about change.
7.Reward yourself on your successes, but don't punish yourself if you fail: If you oversleep one day and miss a workout, be happy about your extra snooze hours and work extra hard the next morning to make it happen. If you succeed in sticking to your training schedule for an entire week, reward yourself with a hot chocolate (or whatever treat will please you).
8.Involve your friends and family: Involving significant others or family members, friends, or work colleagues, depending on the resolution, enhances chances of success. Sharing with friends and family and receiving accolades and appreciation from them is always very inspiring. What better way to stay on track than with the support of your loved ones.
9.Read for inspiration: Self-help books are great. Reading biographies of successful leaders, attending workshops and forums can helpyou keep your resolutions.
10. Finally, have faith in yourself: Everything can be conquered with faith. You have to allow yourself to trust the process. Any change needs time and as we know, patience is a virtue. So, we have to follow it through by taking one small step at a time after making a big leap of faith. We have to reinforce the desire to work on our targets often, rebuild our faith as often as it shakes and revaluate, reassess and restructure the process from time to time.