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10 tips to help make those New Year resolutions a success

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10 tips to help make those New Year resolutions a success

Graham Smith

Yes, I know it's not even December yet, but in my defence that festive, jolly month begins tomorrow. (Allegedly)

How it crept upon me like that - I have no idea, but I do know that my end of year business review is upon me and I've only just started Christmas shopping. So it made sense to get in early with the advice on New Year resolutions, then at the very least it cannot lurk around the corner and jump out at me on January 1st. (The month, that is. You see they lurk around corners waiting to ambush me when I am least expecting them.) 

So, if you are one of those people who like making resolutions, setting goals, taking up challenges - call them what you will;  join me and get ahead in 2016 with a plan of action.

On your behalf, I have done some research - in fact I have found some very interesting statistics on the differences between men and women, when it comes to these things.

According to Professor Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire: - Men are significantly more likely to succeed when asked to engage in either goal setting (e.g., instead of trying to lose weight in general, aiming to lose a pound each week), or focusing on the rewards associated with achieving their goal (e.g., being more attractive to the opposite sex). 

Women are more successful when they tell their friends and family about their resolution, or are encouraged to be especially resilient and not to give up because they have reverted to the old habits (e.g., if dieting, treating a chocolate binge as a temporary setback rather than as failure).

In the study in 2007,  over 3000 people attempting to achieve a range of resolutions, were tracked. Their resolutions included losing weight, visiting the gym, quitting smoking, and drinking less.

At the start of the study, 52% of participants were confident of success. One year later, only 12% had actually achieved their goal!

So in the face of these statistics I have compiled my 10 top tips to help you get ahead of the game and have a greater chance of success with your goals come the big day.

Plan ahead :- Don't leave the decision making until New Year's Eve - you are much more likely to focus on resolutions relating to what is on your mind at the time. So unless you have joined up for Dry January ahead of the festivities, (Yes, Mrs Smug here has done that already) swearing you are not going to drink again is unlikely to make the end of the month or week....  this is where this post comes in, planning ahead.

Make just one resolution : - Most of us make the mistake of trying to achieve too much. In order to beat that 12% success rate, it is far better to put all of that energy into making changes in just one area. This, of course, can then be broken down into smaller steps to achieve your bigger, overall goal.

Set S.M.A.R.T goals :- Apparently important for men according to the research, but as this is one of the key foundations of goal setting, I think equally important for all of us. So, just in case your poor overloaded brain can’t recall the details of this popular acronym, here is your choice, including a few more interesting options then normal.

  • Specific, Significant or Stretching. 
  • Measurable, Motivational or Meaningful
  • Achievable, Acceptable or Attainable
  • Realistic, Relevant or Rewarding
  • Timely, Tangible or Trackable  

Tell everyone :- Again, according to the research - this is the one for us women, but I reckon accountability is one of the greatest drivers for achieving goals. According to the good Professor, many people keep their New Year's Resolutions to themselves, which makes it all too easy to simply forget about them. Unlike me, of course, who usually writes blogs and other posts about goals and challenges! (I’m still doing the 30 day challenge by the way) Instead, he recommends going public suggesting that we write down our resolution on a large sheet of paper, sign it, and place it somewhere prominent in the house. I think that would just get my lot sighing with exasperation. The up-to-date version of this is must be to go large on your Facebook wall,  tell your friends, (real or otherwise) about your resolution. You can also ask them to provide you with helpful nudges to assist, although knowing my ‘friends’ that would probably elicit some very unhelpful comments! Whatever you do - don’t keep your resolution to yourself.

Don’t give up :- That sounds daft I know, but the reality is that new habits take time to learn, and it is very likely that during your journey once in a while you will trip up and slip back to those old behaviours. It’s important to remember that we all mess up, the trick is not to give in straightaway, blaming yourself for being a failure, just get back up and carry on. Learn to ‘fail brilliantly’. Just think what would have happened if Edison had given up up on the 9,999th time. 

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Celebrate Successes - My favourite, as it is the title of my book ( well almost). The important thing here is to make sure you celebrate those smaller milestones on the way to your overall success - this really keeps up the motivation. Of course, the celebration does need to be in line with your resolution, no sticky toffee pudding every time you lose two pounds!

Focus on the present - It is really easy to get so super focussed on that end goal that you forget to appreciate your daily journey. So experience fully what is happening around you and don’t spend all of your time focussing on either the past or the future.

Train your brain - A lot has been written about the brain's capacity for making changes and how we can create new neural pathways in our brains to change behaviours and habits. So focus your thinking on the new thoughts and habits, not the old stuff. This is especially important if you have a little slip -up.  Also, avoid resolutions that you have made before that have not worked out - make sure you are taking this month to really work out what you want from your life. Revisiting old resolutions is likely to set you up for disappointment.

Visualise success - Finally here’s your opportunity to go out and buy that lovely journal you’ve seen in the pre-Christmas sale and keep notes of what’s working, detailing your progress. If handwritten is too passé for you - there’s always an excel spreadsheet or even a vision board filled with motivational pictures of the future you!

Good luck with your resolutions, I’ll be posting some more tips nearer the time, so keep an eye on the blog. If you are female and want to spend a weekend devoted to you and and find ways to create success, why not come along to our High Heel Thinking weekend in Bournemouth.

Happy New Year! (I guess Christmas comes first, so Merry that too)

If you've enjoyed this post, please feel free to share and I'd love to hear some of your plans.