New Year’s resolutions are a great way to refocus your life and set goals for the coming year to bring the lifestyle changes that you long for.
But as daily life returns to normal after the festive period, all too often so do the same old bad habits that we’re determined to overcome.
A resolution to improve your life is much more than just a positive statement of intention. Whether you have vowed to stop smoking, drink less alcohol, lose weight or get fit this year, it requires planning, commitment, time, support and resilience.
So just how can you make those lifestyle changes stick in 2016 to make this your healthiest year yet? The Detox Bible has been taking a look at how to make lifestyle changes last this year…
Plan for success
The best start that you can give yourself is to do your research and plan ahead to work out how you’ll overcome the inevitable challenges that you’ll face.
If you’re planning a new healthy eating regime, think ahead about how you intend to stick to your plan when you attend that birthday party you’ve been invited to at the end of January. Or if you’re starting a new fitness plan, consider how you can commit to regular workouts around childcare and work commitments. The key is planning ahead and being prepared.
Avoid unrealistic resolutions
Creating an absolute resolution, such as “I’m giving up chocolate and sweets” or “I’m going to work out every day without fail”, will set you up for failure. Overly strict rules don’t leave any wiggle room for your willpower.
Limited restrictions are much more effective, provided that you set out the limitations clearly. For example, instead of resolving to give up chocolate and sweets, instead try vowing to have small portion of chocolate or sweets only once a week on a Saturday.
Set small achievable goals at the outset so that you can see how far you’ve already come during moments of weakness when throwing the towel in and giving up becomes all too tempting. Seeing your achievements over previous weeks or months makes it much more difficult to quit. It’s the best possible way that you can encourage yourself in the future when the going gets tough.
But most importantly, write your goals down. Research has shown that committing your goals to paper makes you significantly more likely to achieve them than simply making a mental or verbal vow – so get writing those daily and weekly goals to help keep you on track.
Visualise the new you
Your mind is the best tool that you have to help you make lasting changes. By visualising where you long to be, it helps your mind to focus on achieving your goals and helps to keep you motivated by giving you a mental rehearsal of how good it will feel when you succeed.
Visualisation is easy to do. Simply find somewhere quiet and comfortable and spend a few minutes imagining, in vivid detail, what you would look and feel like if you had already reached your goals.
Reinforce the mental image you have created by leaving yourself visual cues to remind yourself of what you’re aiming for, such as a photo of a slimmer, healthier you on the fridge.
Focus on one behaviour at a time
Unhealthy behaviours develop over time and it takes a huge amount of effort and commitment to change these habits. Many of us run into difficulty when we try to change too many behaviour in one go.
So if you want to lose weight, get fit and improve your diet this year, try to focus on just one element at a time instead of taking on too much. For example, start with a healthy eating plan and as new healthy behaviours become a habit, only then try to add another goal, such as starting a fitness regime.
Be kind to yourself
Anyone that has ever made significant changes to their lifestyle will undoubtedly have faltered and faced failure along the way. Don’t expect to be perfect. Occasional slip-ups will happen and there will be bumps in the road but be kind to yourself and resolve to get back on track. Try not to focus on the mistake but rather on the bigger picture. A few stumbles doesn’t mean your journey has reached an end.
Enlist the help of a good friend or your partner to help keep you motivated when you start to feel your commitment wane. Simply having someone on your side who understands and supports your journey, and who can share the highs and lows reaching your goal, can be the deciding factor as to whether you succeed or fail to maintain the changes that you set out to achieve.
It takes time and effort to unpick bad behaviours in an effort to create new, healthier ones. Making lasting lifestyle changes requires more than just a verbal vow at the start of the year. Making the changes that you want requires commitment and determination but you can do it, with a little preparation and planning.