HOW TO MAKE THE MOST OF NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS
[guestpost]This is a guest blog post by my friend and Self Care Coach, Mel Noakes, who specialises in helping women to balance professional success with their personal health and happiness. After leaving her corporate career, Mel decided to help people whose lives look great on paper but which in reality feel like "crap" having been there herself. Having now passed the date when most people have apparently given up on their New Year's Resolutions, I thought she'd be the ideal person to help you keep going with yours - whether you're a woman or a man. You can find out more about Mel's work on her website HERE and also connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. [/guestpost] There’s something almost cathartic about a fresh start isn’t there? A clear inbox. A new home. A new job. Even new shoes. It feels something special to start something.
And nothing says fresh start quite in the same way that a new year does.
And with new year comes new year's resolutions – according to a You Gov poll 63% of Brits and over 100 million Americans set new year's resolutions. That’s a lot of intention being sent out into the universe.
The practice isn’t new, according to the history books the Romans began each year making promises to the god Janus, how January got its name. The Babylonians made promises to their gods each year that they’d pay their debts and return items that they had borrowed. In many religions, a new year is significant for casting off the old and seeking forgiveness to move forward with the new.
So, with such fervour around new year’s resolutions, it seems odd that a new year’s resolution will be a distant memory before the month is out. A 2015 by Bupa showed that 63 per cent of people who set new year’s resolutions in 2015 failed and of those polled by Bupa, nearly half of Brits (43%), lasted less than a month.
So, what happens to that shiny new feeling and why do so many people go so wrong?
Too many goals or areas of focus all at once
I want to lose weight, learn a language and climb Mount Everest. Ooooh, and I want a new job, a new boyfriend and I should probably save more.
The adage, less is more, comes to mind with new year’s resolutions. For most people, juggling so many commitments alongside ‘normal life’ just isn’t feasible so although we start with good intentions, we often stumble by having too many things to focus on.
What I recommend: Spend 30 minutes and brainstorm everything you want to achieve this year, get it all down on paper. That hobby you wanted to take up, that promotion you want, that new place you want to check out – get it all down so you can see everything in one place. I like to use a tool called ‘The Wheel of Life’ with my clients as it encourages them to think broadly about every aspect of their life.
Then, once you have everything out on paper, start to prioritise. There are many different ways to do this and one of them will instinctively feel right for you. Perhaps pick the resolutions that feel the most exciting, or the most pressing, or the ones that have the biggest impact or the ones that feel most fun. Remember, less is more!
Making the resolution ‘absolute’
“I’m going to stop [INSERT VICE] forever”.
“I’m going to go to [INSERT RESOLUTION] every day”
Some people do well going ‘cold turkey’ or down the absolute route, but for most people that amount of rapid change sends their central nervous system into melt down. We’re creatures of habit and have evolved to dislike change. Changes to our environment in prehistoric times could signal danger and danger could mean death.
It also means if you say you’re NEVER smoking again, if you do have a little blip, you’re much more likely to feel like you’ve blown it and abandon the resolution entirely.
What I recommend: It’s far better to break the resolution down into more manageable and actionable steps, like a goal. Take little stepping stones to make things feel more manageable. So if you plan to stop smoking for example, perhaps the first step is visiting the doctor to seek out support or contacting a hypnotherapist.
Not being specific
Research shows that clear and specific goals result in higher performance. This is because measurable goals are more effective at guiding action and behavior. Let’s look at two different examples.
If you were to say ‘I want to lose weight’ that might seem like a great goal, but compare it to ‘I want to lose 10 pounds by March’. Which seems easier and more attainable?
Or to use one of my personal goals I set each year ‘I want to travel to 3 new countries and visit a new city’ – that’s much clearer and easier to measure than ‘ I want to travel more’
What I recommend: Try using the SMART structure Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely to turn your dreams into realistic goals that you can more easily achieve.
They’re not FUN!
So many of my clients have said to me that they’ve always thought of new year’s resolutions as some kind of punishment. I find the exact opposite is true. New year’s resolutions are a time to set out what you want from the year ahead, how you want to improve, grow and what you want to call forth into your life. What’s not exciting and fun about that?!
What I recommend: – Use the SMART framework above but add in two important letters - E and the R to turn the word into SMARTER.
The E is for EXCITING – what’s exciting and fun about what you’re setting out to achieve? If it’s not fun, exciting or compelling in some way, the chances are your enthusiasm will wane.
R is for Reaction – what’s the impact of having this goal in your life? What is it about it that makes you want it? What will you be thinking, feeling and doing differently when this resolution is achieved? Who will you be once you have this in your life? Powerful questions to ask yourself.
A Final Thought...
I also wanted to share a final thought. I studied English Literature and I always remember my professor used to say ‘start with the end in mind’. In any essay or piece we were writing he’d ask us to consider the outcome, the conclusion, the point we were looking to make. I like to approach the new year in a similar way. So I want to ask you:
- How you want to feel on the 31st December?
- What do you want the year to have represented?
- Is there a word, feeling or sentiment that captures this?
One way to really bring this to life is to write a letter from the future you on the 31st December to the you now celebrating the year that’s passed and all that’s happened and you have to be proud of. It’s a great way to tap into what’s really important to you.
Here’s to a wonderful year ahead – whatever you have in store!
Join The Conversation
Questions: What about you? Did you make one or more New Year's Resolutions? How are you getting on? I love to read your feedback so please share your thoughts in the comments box below.
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I’m Denyse Whillier, a London based business coach and consultant. I guide entrepreneurs from across the globe to achieve profitable, scaleable growth and create businesses that are Built To Succeed™. Built To Succeed™ is my proven success system, developed during my 8 years in the trenches as a CEO, 25 years’ experience at senior leadership and managerial level and training at Cranfield School of Management, the UK's leading business school. It's this background that sets me apart and helps my clients to get BIG results.
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