Do New Years’ Resolutions Work?

How many of you sit down on New Years Day and vow that this year is going to be different; then plan out a punishing diet and exercise programme, bin the Christmas chocolates and try and overhaul your whole life? And how many of you give up the new programme by the middle of January because its too hard and your motivation has gone?

Yep – been there and done that! And so, I’m not a big fan of New Years Resolutions. They usually mean deprivation, hard work and cast-iron willpower, and none of those sound an appealing way to start a New Year!

But! I do like making plans for the New Year. It always feels like a bit of a fresh start, so I do spend time thinking about what I want to be different – but I do it by looking at what I want to add to my life instead of what I want to give up. More time with friends, not giving up chocolate for example!

If you do want to make some positive changes in your life this year, here are my top tips:

  1. Start by listing your achievements for the previous year

It’s easy to get down on ourselves for not achieving last year’s resolutions but focusing on things that have gone well gets us in the right frame of mind to move forwards. Maybe you didn’t lose the stone you wanted but managed to keep your weight stable in a pandemic – that’s a win in my book! List everything that went well and everything you’re grateful for. 

  1. Treat yourself like your best friend

Too often we speak to ourselves worse than our worst enemy would, let alone our best friend. We eat a biscuit and call ourselves names like pathetic, pig etc. But if a friend called you and said she’d fallen off her diet plan you’d tell her she was doing great and reassure her that she could do this. And that’s what we need to tell ourselves! All positive change starts from a place of self-love.

  1. Think about what you want to add – not give up

When you decide to give something up, like chocolate, it becomes all you can think about! Much better to think about what you want to add to your life instead, it’s so much more appealing! For example, if you want to cut down on coke, you might try drinking more water instead. This is a little mind trick that really helps!

  1. Take small steps

There’s a reason gyms are usually full at the beginning of January and empty at the end. We try and do too much too soon! Our brains don’t like change, so they get overwhelmed when we try and change too much too soon and try and tempt us back into our old habits. It’s much better to take small steps and build up gradually. Instead of planning an hour’s workout 5 times a week, try 5 minutes a day. You’ll feel great when you achieve it and it’ll inspire you to do more.

  1. Share your plans with others

Humans are meant to be part of a tribe; we work best together. So, share your plans with others and ask for support. Whether it’s a partner helping more at home or a friend joining a class with you, we all need a little help and encouragement.

  1. Celebrate every little win

Whenever you celebrate a little win, your brain releases feel-good chemicals that makes you want to repeat the behaviour. And I do mean every little win. Eat a biscuit but don’t finish the packet? Give yourself a high-five. Make time for a bubble bath? Tell yourself you’re winning at life. For this to work, you need to celebrate in the moment – promising yourself a new pair of shoes once you’ve lost a stone doesn’t have the same effect.

  1. Embrace slip-ups

Who has started a diet on a Monday, eaten a donut on Wednesday, called yourself a failure, given up and vowed to start again the following Monday? Me too! That’s what happens when we label ourselves as failures. The truth is, failing is part of the process. Michael Jordan famously said, “I’ve failed over and over again and that’s why I succeed.” When we slip up, we learn something about ourselves. Why did we eat that donut? How were we able to stop at one biscuit and not finish the packet?

  1. Tweak the plan

Use what you’ve learnt to tweak the plan and move towards your goal. If a stressful day got you off track, what caused the stress and how could you deal with it better? If you didn’t have time to workout can you ask for more support? We need to adapt what we’re doing constantly to make it work for us.

  1. Be kind to yourself

Whatever journey you’re on, nurture and encourage yourself as you would a loved one. Remember, positive change comes from self-love and we need to practice this throughout our journey, not just at the beginning!

  1. Focus on the positives

Every day reflect on what’s gone well and what you’re grateful for. This will keep you in the best frame of mind to move forwards with whatever goal you’ve set yourself.

And if you’re not making any changes this year, and carrying on exactly as you are, great! You’re perfect just the way you are!

Happy New Year!

New Year