Do you ever feel that there’s a dreary cycle to the setting of New Year’s resolutions each year only to see them fail as early enthusiasm peters out? If so, there’s a reason and it’s all to do with context. The clarity we have when we conceive them during the festive break evaporates almost as soon as the New Year starts, replete with its full-on work schedule, busy social life and running the taxi service for the kids.
So the really effective time to start work on a resolution is… now! Why now? Because you’re right in the thick of it - in the throes of daily life. When you ultimately succeed, it’ll be because you’ve managed to change your daily habits. Ian Price is author of the new book, Head Start: Build a Resilient Mindset so You Can Achieve Your Goals. He shares his five top tips on goal setting with Female First.
1. Break down your goal into small milestones
Resolutions are often about hitting a binary goal: an ideal weight, stopping smoking, a golf handicap. You either hit it or you don’t. Give yourself a realistic but ambitious date for hitting your overarching goal, but also identify key milestones along the way. Most importantly of all, identify process goals; the daily habits that will get you there whether this is to do with exercise, participation in a programme to stop smoking, or hitting balls at the golf range. For these daily activities, make them 'baby steps' start with to help the habit to become engrained.
2. Work out when your motivation is highest
Many people make the mistake of trying to boost their motivation. Science shows that this really doesn’t help, however many inspiring quotes we write down on Post-Its and leave all over the house! Instead, work with when your motivation is naturally highest each day. If you are one of life’s larks, this will be in the morning so get up an hour earlier each day to work on your goal. If you’re a night owl, carve out time in the evening. If getting up an hour early seems forbidding, get up half an hour earlier. Failing that, make it just fifteen minutes. Putting in a very small amount of daily time consistently is so much better than starting with huge ambitions and then backsliding.
3. Make it social - have a buddy join you
Research shows that people are more likely to persist with using a gym if they train with a buddy. Find someone who shares your goal and have them join you. When you feel like quitting, you will find it more difficult because you won’t want to let your buddy down.
4. Don’t allow yourself to 'time out'
We’re too quick to say to ourselves that we are 'too busy’ to do something that’s important to us. Carve out the time you need to work on your daily goals and make sure that you and those around you treat it as sacred, not to be bounced by something else. It can take several weeks to get a habit truly engrained, so in those early few weeks try not to 'break the chain’. Keep showing up, even if it’s for a small period.
5. Celebrate success along the way
If you stick with your plan and complete your daily goals, you will be pleasantly surprised by the ease with which you achieve your ultimate goal. So congratulate yourself for every daily activity completed. When you get to the end of the week allow yourself a treat. You’re on your way to achieving your resolution!
Tagged in New Year