How are your New Year’s Resolutions holding up?

Ok well we have entered the month of February, so you have had a whole month to see how well you are managing to keep your New Year’s Resolutions. The question is, how many of you have lasted so far?

What was your New Year’s Resolution in the first place? Was it one of these, or something similar?

  • Stop Smoking for health reasons
  • Lose weight and get into the jeans you are dreaming to get into
  • Get fitter and look the part
  • Find a new job where you are appreciated
  • Start your own business and be your own boss
  • Get into a healthy relationship and no more falling for the wrong person

The list goes on and on.  Most people fail at maintaining the promise they make to themselves.  If you go to the gym, for example, you will always notice an influx of new members in January and by February only a handful have remained.

Why does this happen?  Why is it so hard to keep up the new you?  It works in the same way as when you have guests coming over for dinner or when you have your in laws or parents visiting.  You become extra tidy and make extra effort to look tidy but why don’t you keep it to that level?  It is because you do not see yourself in that way.  We all have an internal self-image.  This roughly translates to ‘what am I like?’ and ‘how do I see myself?’  Think of your self-image as an auto-pilot on a boat.  If the auto-pilot was set to east, and you wanted the boat to go north without changing the auto-pilot, then you would have to start rowing to turn it north.  But then what would happen the moment you stop?  The boat will turn east again.

When we set a New Year’s resolution, we usually start rowing in a direction against our self-image and that’s why it feels as if you are trying to run whilst someone is holding onto your belt.

So how do you maintain your resolution. Well these tips, based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, will help?

  • Ensure the New Year is your personal goal.  Do it for you.
  • Create the right environment and conditions for success.  If you know you have serious work commitments until March and getting to the gym 4 times a week is unrealistic then make your goal realistic.  Is this the best time to start? Can you introduce some balance so that you can focus on your goal?
  • Focus on your goal daily.  Keep it to the front of your mind.  Imagine yourself with your goal achieved.
  • Remind yourself of the benefits of achieving your goal.  What’s in it for you in achieving the goal?
  • Take action and do it.  Tolerate the natural discomfort of starting something new.  This will pass after about 3 weeks.
  • Be consistent.  This is about continual and consistent effort, particularly in the first three or four weeks.  Do not be haphazard in implementing your new behaviour.  Do it 90% of the time.  You don’t have to be perfect but you can be very good and excellent.
  • If you make a mistake, don’t throw in the towel and think you are starting from scratch again. Nobody is perfect.  Get back to the new behaviour and don’t beat yourself up about it as it won’t help you.  Create a helpful inner voice and not one that berates you and causes you to feel bad about yourself.

So if you have managed to keep your New Year’s Resolutions so far, well done, and these tips should help you continue all year. If you have failed in your resolution, it is probably time to readdress – was this resolution even the right one for you in the first place? Plan your resolutions again (It doesn’t matter that it is February) and then follow these tips. You will succeed!

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