Whether it’s to get healthy, to be less stressed at work or to spend more time on your relationships – the problem is that these grand resolutions can be very hard to stick to over time. Even now, just a few weeks later, you may find that you’ve already slacked on that promise to get yourself to the gym more often, or to spend less on your credit card.
Rather than beat yourself up about not having staying power, think about replacing your big, bold annual resolutions with smaller changes that you can make in your day-to-day life. Adopting healthier habits in your everyday life is far more manageable, and is more likely to lead to lasting change, which means more dramatic improvements to your life over time. Our friends from Fedhealth share 5 ways to start:
Everything in moderation
Rather than depriving yourself completely of your favourite things – whether it’s coffee, sugar or refined carbs – try to limit how much of these you have so that you’re still enjoying them but in moderation. By placing a limit on how much coffee you drink but not cutting it out altogether, for example, your goal suddenly becomes much more manageable, and you’ll be less likely to have cravings as a result of giving something up completely.
Set specific, smaller goals
Courtney Kincaid from Minimalista talks about setting SMART goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-Bound. By making sure your goals fit into these criteria, big goals you want to achieve over a year or more turn into smaller ones to attain in a shorter timeframe, say monthly. For example, rather than saying, “I want to spend more time with my kids”, change this to, “I want to take my kids on a fun, meaningful outing on two Friday afternoons this month”. The net effect is that you’ll be able to conquer more in one year instead of just one thing – which also makes it more likely that you’ll reach that original “general” goal.
Choose a word
Another approach is to choose an overarching word (or combination of words) to define your year ahead. So, for example, if your word is “ease and calm”, you can use this as a mantra throughout your day, which helps you focus on being calmer and letting go of stress in everyday moments. By being mindful of this intention throughout your day, this then positively influences the weeks, months and years that follow.
Seek a higher purpose
An article by the Blue Zones project entitled 20 Habits for a Healthier, Happier Life, talks about the world’s “Blue Zones” – those communities around the world where people are happiest and healthiest. Research has found that happier people in these communities know and nurture their higher purpose – and this is also linked to living a longer life. Seeking this higher purpose could take the form of nurturing your spirituality or religion, getting involved and helping in your community, or embracing your ikigai – the Japanese word that roughly translates as your reason for being.
It’s natural to have the best intentions for ourselves in the year ahead, but we’re only human after all. Resist the temptation to berate yourself if you find yourself slipping into bad habits that you’re trying to give up. Stay positive and keep trying – as long as you’re moving in the right direction, you’re doing well!
Resolutions are so last year – they can be hard to stick to and can make you feel terrible about yourself when you don’t stick to them, which defeats their whole purpose in the first place. Instead, try implementing these 5 simple methods to create real, lasting change for 2018.