How to stick to those New Years' resolutions

How to stick to those New Years' resolutions

So, it’s that time again where the new year resolutions come out. I always say; “I’m not making resolutions, it’s good to change habits at any time” but closer to Christmas I end up saying “next year I am going to…”!!!

But what makes it easier for us to stick to our resolutions long enough that they become a habit and something which we are more likely to carry on investing in?

There are a lot of theories about how long it takes us to form a habit, some saying as few as 21 days and others estimating that it can take 200 plus. Of course, there are many factors which will contribute to this. For example; is it something new that we are trying to implement? If so, we are more likely to keep having a go at it. Or is it something which we are trying to stop after a long time? The latter will be much harder to ‘break’. If we are trying to break an unhealthy habit that we already have, then it helps to replace it with something else first rather than try to go cold turkey.

But honestly, even if we know it takes any time from a few weeks to a few months to form a habit, it can still feel insurmountable the moment we don’t do what we promised ourselves. Instead of focusing on ticking the days off, here are some tips you can use to encourage yourself to commit to your goals and resolutions, whether they be related to running or otherwise.

  1. Be mindful of your attitude! A positive attitude, including one where we take responsibility for our actions, goes a long way. Sometimes we can get hung up on things we have tried before and failed. Use this as fuel for what you want to change for your future. Imagine yourself succeeding, know that you can influence the future now by what you do in the present; it’s all part of the same path.
  2. What will you have to change to succeed? Whenever we set ourselves a new goal, we need to be realistic about what we might have to give up/pay/change in order to move towards it. It might involve sacrificing time which you would have spent being cosy in bed so you can fit a longer run in for your training plan; if you can address this beforehand then you can remind yourself that this is the trade-off you agreed on when you made this commitment and you are prepared to be uncomfortable for the long term gains.
    One way of doing this is to write down your reasons for choosing your resolution and being clear on what you might have to change to implement it. You can consider: “what do I need to give up which might make me feel uncomfortable to be successful in this” but also the flip side of this is: “what if I don’t give up XYZ? Then how would I feel in the long term?”
  3. Make it manageable and you will more likely stick to it. A really important part of this process is to build on progress day to day with small, consistent towards moves. Every step towards your goal, however small, is a step in the right direction.
    Remember when you first decided to start running? It takes dedication to be consistent and put faith in the process of consistency. On your first day of running you don’t complete a 10k in 60 minutes! It takes consistency and commitment by making small steps. This is much more powerful than telling yourself that you need to make huge leaps and putting unrealistic pressures on yourself which result in feeling like you can’t do it and giving up.
  4. Don’t only focus on results! If you feel disheartened, try to remember that by the time you see any results, you will have already been doing a lot of the work towards your goal! What I mean by this is, don’t base your motivation to keep going only on the results that you see every day. Base it on your commitment to follow through on what you said you were going to do, for you, regardless of how you are feeling. A run that feels difficult or rubbish, is still a run, it’s still showing up and proving your commitment to yourself. This spirit will ultimately make you feel like you can achieve whatever you put your mind too. That is the power of focusing on your journey and not only the end game.

Enjoy working towards your resolutions, you might find that you are capable of way more than you thought!

This article was written by Dr Joanna Astill, Principal Clinical Psychologist, Owner of Breakthrough Psychology Services and Co-owner of Stressed Out to Feeling Fabulous

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