What is a New Year’s Resolution?

According to Wikipedia, “A New Year’s resolution is a tradition…in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement or something slightly nice, such as opening doors for people beginning from New Year’s Day.” 

Sounds like a great idea right? Pick something that will make us better and stick to it all year up until the 31st December rolls round again. Easy! Really? Unsurprisingly the statistics would suggest otherwise! A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning.” 48% didn’t think they would succeed before they even started? I think that is very telling and illustrates my next point nicely.

When we make these resolutions we do them logically, with our heads. Deep down we KNOW if we could stand to shape up our eating habits, we KNOW that we should stop spending money as soon as we get it and save, we KNOW if we need to make an effort to get along with people better, we KNOW rationally what we need to do. This is where the term resolution lacks definition. It is not just a “firm decision to do or not do something,” it is a WANTING to do or not do something. For us to want something, it has to appear desirable, there has to be a reason for aiming for it, you have to believe deep down that you are worth this effort.

Resolving to change a very ingrained behaviour is like breaking an addiction. The pathways our brains have created have become easy, comfortable, safe. How will we then train ourselves to travel a different path when this one is so alluring? Again, it’s like treating an addiction because you have to see a way out, you have to have a reason to fight! It comes as light bulb moment, a switch flicking on, an eureka moment where your heart say, “yes, this is what I want!”

So how can we ensure success?

First off, why are you doing it? It has to be for YOU. Not because you think other people think that that’s what you should do. This is your life and you can only change it for YOURSELF if YOU want to.  You need to sit down and realise how much better your life will be for doing this.

Secondly, you need to set goals and these need to be realistic, achievable and flexible. I’m not saying not to aim big, they aren’t exactly challenges if you don’t have to work for them, but I am saying take it one step at a time. You want to take up something new eg running? Start with a short term goal something like, researching the right shoes and getting them broken in by doing short 5 min intervals for month 1. Month 2 could be something like run for 10mins continuously a couple of times a week. Month 3, 2miles months 4….etc and build it up. If you think you’re going to stick on an old pair of trainers and suddenly run a 10k in under an hour (which was exactly what I did when I decided to take up running lol #runningfail )  then you are much less likely to hit your goal than if you go slow and steady with achievable goals. Keep thinking of the bigger picture. You are not aiming for 31st December any more, this is a lifestyle choice!

Thirdly, get a support network in place. If you want to give up smoking, then avoiding certain social circles might have to be what you do. Again, this comes back to what I was saying before, you have to REALLY want this because familiarity beckons when tiredness and stress kick in. You need to surround yourself with like-minded people, so when you are struggling they will understand. Join a support group or start a class (this is one of the things I love about bootcamp!) and you will be far more likely to succeed.  From the same study we looked at earlier, “Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying “lose weight”), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.  

So, will I be making any New Year’s Resolutions?

Nope! What I will be doing is sitting down and mapping out my plans for 2017. Choosing my aims for the year and setting goals to get myself there. Leaving wiggle room in case life happens but having a clear picture of what I would like to have achieved. What I won’t be doing is making spur of the moment grand gestures of bringing about World peace or the likes, un-achievable goals do nothing but demotivate and goodness knows, that’s the last thing any of us need! Your chiefs are here to help and support you anyway we can, you need only ask. We’re all in this together!!