New Year Resolutions:
How To Create Long-Term Personal Change
For many, the new year creates an opportunity to reflect on the year that’s passed and plan for the year ahead.
Some people launch themselves into the new year with the best intentions and big plans about what they’d like to achieve. What often happens, though, is old habits sneak back in, and within a few weeks, the novelty has worn off, and you’re back to square one.
Why Don’t New Year’s Resolutions Always Work?
Most people fail with resolutions because the goal is too big, coupled with a lack of support and a good plan.
There’s nothing wrong with aiming high, but the problem comes when progress is slow. With such a big target and no clear plan, it’s only a matter of time until motivation wanes, the target seems unrealistic, and self-sabotage patterns kick in. Don’t get me wrong, some will stick to their target and achieve incredible things, but they need a bit of help for many.
How To Make Lasting Change
Just 1% does it!
There are several keys to success when it comes to making a change. For many years I’ve worked with people helping them improve their health and wellbeing and what I’ve come to realise is, it’s the small changes over some time that have the most significant effect (the compound effect).
The compound effect works when you create a worthwhile change in your health and wellbeing.
Making small, consistent changes over a long time will have a far more significant effect than going at something full steam ahead for a short time. No matter how small it is, it will create an impact, so just get started.
Be Realistic With Your Goals
As I mentioned, most people set themselves an overly ambitious target. If you’ve never run and decide to run a marathon, then it’s going to take time.
The best thing is to break your goal down into smaller, manageable chunks.
What’s also important is to allow for some flexibility in your targets. It’s all too easy to set yourself a pass or fail target. This is a fast track to becoming demotivated and quitting.
For example; Let’s say you want to get back to exercise. Most people say something to the effect of, “I want to go to the gym five times a week”.
This is great, but what happens when you get held up at work or the cat needs to head to the vet. Life will always happen, and you will miss days.
Does that mean you’ve failed? Our natural instinct and mental patterns usually to say, “yes, I’ve failed.”
You didn’t reach the target, so you must have failed. But what about the three times you did go to the gym.
I always recommend setting a target as well as a minimum and a mind-blower. So with the exercise example, it could be as follows:
- Minimum: 3 x per week
- Target: 5 x per week
- Mindblower: 6 x per week
Using the above formula, you know that you’re on track as long as you hit between 3 and 6 workouts a week. And you can turn this one on its head if you want to reduce a “vice”.
Let’s say it’s caffeine in the form of coffee. Currently, you drink six coffees a day. You could set yourself a target of only three. You then set your minimum at four and your mindblower at one. That way, you have control and don’t feel like it’s a game of “all or nothing”.
Reward Yourself – Don’t Criticise Yourself
We have all been there, right? You get to the end of the day or week, and you think, “Oh, I didn’t achieve that” or “I could have done better.”
How does that help us?
By having flexible goals/targets, you can look back over your week and say, “Great, I achieved that,” and maybe ask yourself, “How can I improve on that?”.
It’s all too easy to focus on the negatives, giving yourself credit for what you’ve achieved and then rewarding yourself.
That doesn’t mean indulging in take-outs or desserts by the way; that’s not how it works!
Have some rewards in mind as to what you’ll do when you hit specific targets. Or if you’re more “stick” than “carrot” motivated, what’s your penalty for not reaching the target?
Don’t Take On Too Much At Once
Typically when people try and kick habits or change their lifestyle, they do too many things at once. Again this leads to overwhelm and loss of motivation.
Indeed, focus and choose several things to work on over-time but start small, using manageable goals.
Choose the one thing that’s going to make the most significant difference and focus on that for a good few weeks. It takes around three weeks to change a habit, so give yourself the time to work on something properly before taking on something new.
Get A Buddy
We all know things like this are more manageable if you’re working with someone else. Accountability is so valuable when it comes to making changes in your life. Indeed, for the people I work with, this is a big part of what I offer. The number of my clients who come in and say, “I’ve been good with my water intake today as I knew you’d ask.”
Find someone you can work with; a friend, colleague, or professional who will keep you motivated, focussed, and on track.
And finally, a little something a personal trainer once told me:
“You don’t need motivation. You need commitment!”
So, good luck. Get clear on what you want to achieve, set sensible, achievable targets, and celebrate your successes.
About Ian Stones:
Ian of Hove Fertility and Wellness, based in the UK, is a leading fertility and wellness expert with extensive experience supporting men and women throughout their fertility journey. He is passionate about offering bespoke and personalised support to couples who are facing challenges around their fertility journey whether they are just starting out or further down the line of assisted fertility treatment. Ian is especially passionate about supporting men who are often the neglected part of the fertility journey.
Enjoyed this blog? Be sure to read: “New Year Fertility Fitness Resolutions & How to Keep Them.”