New Year, New You…

…The making of annual resolutions is a flawed enterprise. Fewer than 35% of people are still on target by January 31st with Forbes citing that only 8% make it through the year.

In this month’s blog, Futures Protected looks at resolution making, and examines some thoughts on increasing your chances of success.

Firstly, I want to say that I think ‘new year resolutions’ in their typical form are a bad idea; they have become fanciful, are hard to achieve, and often have no clear path to success. When we don’t keep going all year, we perceive ourselves as failures, thus putting more worry and negative thoughts into our already stressful lives.

A resolution should be a positive and informed decision, not an arbitrary rule imposed on a given date.  It should allow for some flexibility so that as long as we are moving towards the goal, a small slip won’t throw us permanently ‘off course’. After all, if you’ve eaten healthily for five days then had a small cake on the sixth, the world will not end!

Thinking small

If we are honest with ourselves, we could all do with a few more ticks in the win column. So, let’s set about making these resolutions in a more achievable way. To do that, let’s look at the concept of “Thinking Small”.

Picking a goal that is too large, and not having a clear path of how to get there, can turn even the most passionate and motivated person into a disillusioned quitter. Breaking down the goal into manageable, realistic tasks is the key. Accomplishing these tasks builds momentum, and inspires us to tackle the next challenge.

A common example might be setting a goal to lose three stone. There is no healthy way to lose three stone in a week, so instead sustained changes must be made to diet, lifestyle and activity levels. For example, the first week’s activity goal could be “Increase daily steps to at least 3000,” and in the second week it could be “Increase daily steps to 5000,” and so on. If someone has a previously chosen a sedentary lifestyle, making a resolution to walk the recommended 10,000 every single day just won’t happen long-term. By setting a moderate and achievable target, and continually reviewing and increasing the personal challenge, that person is far more likely to make that long-term change to their activity level.

All the data shows setting huge unplanned goals doesn’t work for 92% of us. What percentage of us could manage year-long change if we just thought a little more carefully about our resolutions?

If you want to read more about thinking small I personally enjoyed this article.

Don’t beat yourself up

Did you read that newspaper story where the lady who was on a diet ate a cake and died???

I didn’t think so, because it didn’t happen. But if you listen to some people when they break a resolution or falter from their plan, you’d think they’d broken every law known to man. All that happens with this kind of thinking is that it lowers self-esteem, and crushes the belief that you can achieve your goal. Needless to say, that isn’t healthy! It’s often in those low moments that we reach for the very things that we are trying to give up/reduce.

There is no shame in ‘falling off the wagon’. Everybody falters; just dust yourself off and get back on it.

If you want to read a good short article about falling off the fitness wagon click here.

Know yourself

When making goals for yourself, I think it’s key to know yourself; be honest with yourself. Recognise your strengths and weaknesses; what will make you succeed or fail? What are your key motivators and demotivators?

For me, there is absolutely no point in me saying “I won’t eat any unhealthy food in January,” because I will never succeed; I love all food, both healthy and… less healthy.

So based on principal of small, achievable, realistic goals, here are mine;

  • Maximum of two junk foods / bad foods per week
  • Gym three times a week
  • Build 15 minute core plan with physio I can do at home before I go to work

Those three goals aren’t earth shattering or huge, but they are something I can achieve that will help me move towards my overall goals.

Different goals

Whatever you choose for your personal goals for 2017, best of luck with them and I hope you, your family your friends all have an amazing 2017. Leave me a comment below about your goals for the year, and how you plan to achieve them.

P.S. As it’s January, and in the theme of self-improvement, there will be a second instalment of the blog at the end of the month, from two guest contributors. Both are health related. One on weight loss, which comes with the most amazing real life story, and another from my physio on keeping yourself injury free.

Anyway, I’m off for a light snack or two!

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