18 Jan 2016

A New Year, A New You?

So we've all set some resolutions for New Year, and now it's time to stick them out. If you are anything like me you will know that making them is the easy bit, but actually seeing them through is a completely different story. In fact to be totally honest this year I haven't made any. I did however set some goals before Christmas through a self improvement book I'm working on. And resolutions are a bit like goals, they are something we want to do or achieve.  So in this post I'd like to help you stick to those and give you some tips on the best ways of sticking to your resolutions.

The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking spaces, so keep driving!

The best way to start is to make your resolution into a goal. This is because a goal is not just a statement, it goes deeper, looking into and setting out a pathway that leads you to achieve them, and it needs to be laid down in a certain way according to the book I'm reading:

S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Realistic
T - Time limited

As well as positively framed!! This is a hugely important step because, if Professor Wiseman from the University of Hertfordshire is correct, 'only 10% of people succeeded in reaching their New Years resolutions', he knows that because 90% of the 5,000 people he followed failed with theirs.
But don't let that get you down and cause you to give up and go straight out to your newsagents for a chocolate.... He found that one of the reasons was that they focused too much on the downside of not achieving their goal. Looking into this further, the book I'm reading tells us that there are two types of goals:

Approach Goals - goals that are moving towards something positive
Avoidance goals - goals framed in a way that focus on trying to get away from something bad or negative.

The authors use an example where you are to imagine running away from a Tiger, the avoidance goal would be 'to avoid being eaten', compared to the approach goal of 'finding safety'. Have a think and see what you conjure up when you think about both of these in terms of your own goal. I am sure like me you will find that when you think about the goal in terms of an approach goal it is far more motivating, positive and empowering, and takes the focus away from the negative (what you are missing out on, giving up, getting away from). We could say that an Approach goal is a positive re-frame of an avoidance goal, which helps if you are anything like me and your automatic, knee jerk thought when setting a goal or resolution is always on what I want to give up, leave, remove from my life.
So lets take an example of a resolution many people make 'I want to lose weight', we know that one way to lose weight is to do more exercise so let's positively frame this - 'I am going to get fitter!'

Lets turn it into an Approach goal and use the above factors to increase our chances of success:


S - I'm going to go to the gym, and I'm going to go walking.
M - Go to the Gym once a week for an hour, and walk for half an hour on a Tuesday and Thursday night
A - We haven't gone overboard and tried to make goals of going to the gym every night which in most peoples lives would take up too much time and we'd find we'd soon give up. And we haven't tried to push ourselves to doing something that will cost the earth or be difficult to achieve. We've kept it simple and attainable.
R - We've chosen things that are not unrealistic, the gym (in our case is walking distance to my house) so I have no reason not to be able to get there, and walking is something I don't need any equipment and can do at any time just walk out my door!
'Remember make the right thing the easy thing to do'
T - For the next three month this is my goal. After that I will review.

Now comes the motivation, a lot of us give up because we don't have the motivation, but if you have a read of a great blog post we found on motivation - its says that

'If we wait for Motivation to show up, we wont show up'. 

And that Motivation is more a result of doing something ie. by going to the gym you feel good and that creates the motivation to go again. So all you need to do is take the first step.

But remember  - To reach your goals you have to try new things, goals are all about what you are trying to do, but nothing is set in stone, you can change them and tweek them any time, so if your gym is too expensive maybe take up a yoga class once a week, or walk to work one day a week if you don't have time in the evening that day.

Finally when push comes to shove - actually it doesn't matter if you don't achieve your goal entirely, only that you are trying! So if you've made some resolutions but are struggling to stick to them, go back through this blog and turn your resolution in to an Approach goal and start again! Good luck, you can do it!

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