New Year, new you?
It’s January, and that mantra is continually doing the rounds through social media, newspapers, TV…There are constant deals on the latest diet plans, fitness regimes to follow, self-care mantras. You name it, new years resolutions are always popular this time of year.
Whether you believe in making resolutions or not, the beginning of the year does lend itself as a time for reflection on what we did (or didn’t) do in the previous year and what we’d like to achieve in the coming year. However, that reflection doesn’t necessarily follow through into action for the next
I haven’t made a New Year’s resolution in years, and when I did I wasn’t a fan of them to be honest.
Well, first there was the expectation that you had a new resolution to make. For me resolutions generally revolved around fitness, or being healthier, however in my resolutions there was no in-depth review of what I had already achieved or where I needed to go. And then it was swiftly followed by guilt, as I had invariably broken it within a week or set the bar too high.
But while I no longer make resolutions, I do make intentions for the year ahead and follow it up with some planning. For me the word intentions gives me some leeway to review and update my goals throughout the year. This removes the guilt and allows me to adapt to what life throws at me during the year.
You may be saying that it sounds an awful lot like making resolutions? And it is. However, what I do now is spend some time breaking those intentions down into smaller, more achievable and actionable goals. These goals I review each month and plan for the month ahead. I then set new ones every three months, taking into account how well the previous three months have gone.
Whether it’s Intentions or Resolutions, how will you keep yours this year?
As I mentioned above, I had invariably broken my resolution in days, or had failed to plan for them so had forgotten about them over the year. Here are some tips below to stop this cycle of broken resolutions and to start you on the path to the ‘better you’ you have always promised yourself.
The trick to choosing intentions for the year that will work for you is to start with reflecting on the year gone by. If we have no idea what worked for us, what we liked or what didn’t work, we can’t make an informed choice for the year ahead.
Maybe you followed a diet plan which you loved, got you the results you were looking for, but when you went on holiday you struggled to get back into. Or over the summer you got out walking each day and loved it.
Once you have your review just spend a little time reflecting on what it was about it that made it work, or that didn’t. This will help to tailor and troubleshoot your goals for this year.
Pick your top 3 intentions for the year
Following on from reflection pick your top three intentions for this year. It doesn’t mean that you can’t have more, but starting off small makes it more achievable. These can be very general, such as get fitter or eat better, spend more quality time with my family / other half, be less stressed, have more money…
Goals – Make them specific
Once you have your intentions now is where you need to make them specific. This is the step most people leave out. Without a specific and measurable goal in mind it makes it harder to achieve or measure how well you’re doing.
So if it was to eat better, why is this? Is it that you need to lose weight or gain energy? Maybe you want to protect your future health? Whatever the reason, be as specific as you can. So if it’s to lose weight, how much and by when. To get more energy does this mean get more sleep or
Make smaller, more achievable goals
James Clear, in his book Atomic Habits, stresses the importance to making any new habit long-lasting to start by making it easy to achieve. So if you need to lose 2 stone and want to do this by the summer, break this down into smaller goals like 4 lbs per month, or 1 lb a week. Or if you want to run the Dublin marathon, plan for a 5km race in 2 months’ time and a 10km in 4 months with a half-marathon in the summer. Or to eat better, rather than cutting out huge food groups, start with 1 or 2 small changes, like upping your water and not eating after dinner. Once those are in-grained then move onto other positive changes that you could make.
Now you have your specific and measurable goals, planning is what will transform them form them into action! Planning what you need to do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis will ensure that you are putting the steps in place to make your goal a reality.
So to get fitter, do you need to look up gyms near you, find a running program, scout out running routes? Plan your workout sessions into your calendar on a weekly basis so you can work around your busy periods and remove the excuses.
For that weight loss or eating healthier, do you have a meal plan to follow? Have you cleared out your cupboards?
Finally, to increase the likelihood of success add in some accountability. This can come in the form of getting family and friends on board to go training with. Or a personal trainer or nutritionist to check in with you on a weekly basis to help you stay on track.
Tracking your progress in a journal each day is another way to stay on track. Logging how you feel, how your session went, how your energy is, your stress levels…Whatever it is, reflecting on your day, just like reflecting on your year, can help to keep you on track and allow you to troubleshoot the days that didn’t go as planned.
Being accountable to someone else, even just to show up, can make the difference to your yearly intentions. Sometimes when we are accountable to just ourselves, when the going gets tough we may give in easier.
If you have tried intentions and goal setting before I’d love hear how you got on. Let me know in the comments below.