A few words about resolutions

Happy New Year! 2020 is here. January is often the time when people set new goals that will improve their lives. For many it is the time filled with hopes for a better year.

It is only natural that many of us make New Year resolutions. Last time I made one was several years ago when my youngest was a few months old. My resolution was to become more organised in my chaotic life. With a new born baby, a toddler in the house, university modules with 2 exams to pass and some community support work I was involved in, there is no need to say that I miserably failed. I added extra pressure to my busy life and the distress this failure caused me was terrible. I don’t make resolutions ever since.

Unfortunately, as my own example shows, when we make New Year resolutions, we often fail to see the bigger picture. Instead, we dive into whatever we want to do without planning and set ourselves up for disappointment. Are you determined to go to gym seven days a week? Great. But have you asked yourself how well it will fit into your busy family/work life? Do you want to lose two dress sizes? Fantastic! But are you sure you’re not setting yourself to failure by starting a restrictive diet that will leave you hungry, angry, dissatisfied and unhappy? Maybe there are people there who wake up on 1 January and decide that their life has changed, they stick to a healthy diet, go to gym 5-7 times a week, meditate every morning and every evening, stop drinking alcohol, stop smoking, pay off their debts, visit family and friends every week. Maybe there are. But I wasn’t fortunate enough to have met them yet. The rest of us have to consider our lifestyles and busy schedules that involve both work and family commitments, children’s activities, community support groups and our own social lives.

Things to remember if you have made a resolution and want to stick to it:

1. Make your goals SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. For example, don’t aim ‘to lose wight’. Aim to lose a kilo a week till you reach the weight you want to have.

2. Plan. How are you going to achieve your goal? Do you want to lose weight? What are you going to eat? Have you got your meal plans and shopping lists? How and when will you exercise?

3. Make sure you have a group of people who will support you, who will keep you accountable if you ‘forget’ your goals. If your family and friends are not supportive, decide how you will deal with it before you start. It will be difficult to stick to your diet if unsupportive people around you ridicule you when you eat your salad and they dig into their juicy steaks.

4. If you slipped, think what caused it? How is your mental state? DO you have enough support? What can you do to avoid this mistake in the future. Accept that sometimes mistakes will happen. Reflect. And remember. To err is human. Don’t give up. The fact that it is a New year resolution does not mean that you cannot restart it in March, July or even September.

5. Self-improvement is a great thing. Whatever you want to achieve, do not expect it to happen quickly! Be patient. Be mindful of your own feelings and emotions. If you are struggling, talk to someone. Or adjust your plan. Or do both. Make sure your mental health does not suffer.

6. Most of all, change is a process. It takes a lot of time, energy and effort. If you accept the challenge of going through this process, then enjoy it. Make a journal, share your journey with others in a blog.

Happy New Year!
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