Don't give up, start over

Off track with your resolutions for this year?
Feel like giving up?
By nature, we tend to focus on what we haven’t achieved, letting the small victories pass us by. Don’t give up, start over.

Most of the time our New Year resolutions involve changing some of our most ingrained habits – things that we do without having to think about them. It’s no wonder that before we are even aware of it, a pattern of unconscious day to day living resumes and we find ourselves pretty much back in the same place as we were before.

It doesn’t have to be like this. We can start over. We can set resolutions and intentions on any day of the year.

Here’s how to be successful…

Staying on Track

Plan carefully

Give yourself the time and space to think about WHAT it is you really want vs what you think you should change or do.

Often we set ourselves superficial resolutions, quick fixes which just scratch the surface of the real life changes we want to see, that matter most to us.

Where it can be tough to work out what matters most to us in life – what we want to spend more of our time doing – by giving ourselves permission to stop, we create space to ask important life questions: ‘what matters most to me?’, ‘how do I spend my time and who do I spend it with?’, ‘what might a more meaningful life look like?’ and before long, we begin to hear the answers.

Plan how you are going to make things happen?

So, you now know what you want – to do more regular exercise, to eat well, to create more ‘me time’, to be more productive at work and finish earlier, to reconnect with friends or revisit an old hobby or passion, but HOW are you going to make it happen? What changes do you need to set in place to get to where you want to be?

Be realistic – daily manageable steps

We set ourselves up for failure by seeking unrealistic change – too much, too quickly. We then lose motivation, and stop pursuing our intention. Break your intention down into daily manageable steps. If you want to get fit and stay fit, do some exercise daily that fits into your day, e.g. cycling or walking part of your journey to work, going to the gym or for a swim at lunch time etc.

Connect to the benefits of your intention

Write down three words that express what matters to you about your intention.

At the end of December, I set two intentions: To avoid processed sugar and to not engage with my smart phone or iPad before meditation and breakfast.

  • My three words for avoiding processed sugar are: increased energy levels, feeling truly well inside, self-care.

  • My three words for not engaging with my electronic devices in the morning are: quality me-time, peace of mind, creativity.

Adopt a learning mindset

When you notice you’re not on track anymore, pause, and ask yourself: What’s happening, what do I need to do differently to get back on track? This learning mindset is open, human, curious and kind compared to a failure mindset which is narrow, harsh and unkind, often making matters worse.

Review progress daily

How did things go – what worked well and what didn’t? Most importantly always celebrate when you have achieved something – this releases the hormone dopamine, also called the reward hormone which makes us feel good and will spur us on to do it again! By nature, we tend to focus on what we haven’t achieved and small victories can easily pass us by.

In my case, reviewing my daily achievements has been hugely helpful. I’ve found avoiding processed sugar very manageable, but have struggled to resist the urge to look at my phone first thing in the morning. It has become such a habit, albeit unhelpful and draining. On a few mornings I found myself, smart phone in hand, deliberating, do I look, don’t I? Each time I managed to put it down because I could remember why I set the intention and what it feels like to start the day peacefully. It felt great when I was aware that I managed to stay on track.

Reward yourself

Reward yourself

Give yourself a reward after a month of having stayed on track with your resolution(s): buy yourself a bunch of flowers, treat yourself to a massage, a meal out, a cycle ride or walk in nature, a weekend away, concert tickets, a holiday…

And lastly, be ardent, resolute, diligent and mindful to your intention(s)

Ardent – wholehearted, enthusiastic, eager, with passion and fire.

Resolute – being wholly committed and unwavering

Diligent – conscientious and thorough. It comes from the Latin root ‘diligentia’ meaning ‘to delight in’. 

Mindful – being aware and awake; aware of unhelpful negative thoughts such as: “I’m rubbish, I will never be able to do this or change…” Mindful also means bringing an attitude of self-kindness and care to oneself; becoming one’s own best friend and support.

Remember: Life is an exploration and we only have this one life. Don’t let another year pass by without doing what matters most to you. You can start every day.

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With warm wishes