2018 is fast approaching! The new year is always a great opportunity to start with a clean slate, consider what you want to change and improve and set your resolutions for the year to come.

The concept of New Years’ resolutions can be a bit of a standing joke though can’t they? So often we set them, knowing in the back of our minds that in all likelihood we’ll be lucky to have stuck to them beyond the first few weeks or at best months of the year. Which makes the whole thing a bit of a futile exercise.

To help make them a meaningful exercise, we wanted to share with you one top tip.

Now usually we would talk about the importance of having a clear guiding goal to keep you motivated and on track and then work back from that and it’s true that we believe this is fundamental. If you can tie your resolution to a specific goal you need to achieve at a specific time in the future (like signing up to run a half marathon / bike ride / swim etc) then you are that much more likely to achieve it. However for the purposes of this blog we want to focus on something slightly different.

If you want to maintain the drive to achieve your resolutions we’d recommend considering a piece of advice our clients have found very effective in helping them actually achieve their monthly objectives: Don’t over reach!

What we mean by this is rather than overwhelming yourself with challenges and changes, take time to consider what would actually make the most difference to you, and set achievable first steps to getting there.

This might sound like a bit of a cop out – “If you want to achieve your objectives, don’t make them too hard, or set too many.” That’s not what we’re saying though. It’s great to have a challenging goal and it’s good to stretch yourself, but we’ve found that when our clients set themselves a huge list of tasks for the month, they actually tend to make less progress than when they only set themselves a few key ones.

This is because when they come to look at the list of what they need to do, it looks so overwhelming that they think they need to put so much time and effort in to tackling it that they can’t ever find a good time to get started.

On the flip side, when they set themselves a list of tasks that they realistically think they can get done, they find there’s not such a barrier to getting going with it. As a result they tend to get going with it earlier in the month, which means they get closer to their goal much quicker, which feels good so they are more inspired to keep going with it and get it done.

So when it comes to New Years’ resolutions, rather than promising yourself that you’re going to exercise five days a week, why not start they year by resolving to exercise once a week without fail? If you feel inspired to do more then great, that’s a bonus! But by setting yourself a manageable target, you will more easily tick that box. You will then start to feel good about the fact that you’re maintaining your resolution, which is motivating to keep going with it. You’ll also start to feel the benefit of the resolution, which means you’ll be more motivated to stick to it and the more you stick to it, the more it will become part of your life, a lasting habit.

It’s like building muscle. If you go straight from not lifting any weights to trying to lift 100kgs, you’re not likely to be able to do it. You have to start at a weight you can manage and build yourself up gradually.

Then set yourself a date on which you’re going to review the resolution within the year, and consider at that point whether you’re ready to push yourself further. Couple this with a specific end goal and you’ll be much more likely to maintain those resolutions.

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