In the noise and excitement of the new year, it can be tempting to decide you’ll reinvent yourself in 2018. All of that over-indulgence and time to think over Christmas can lead to a feeling that we should make huge personal changes and become more healthy in the new year.
At the same time, magazines, blogs and news features will all refer to the ‘New Year, New You’ phenomenon, where we’re chided for enjoying the holidays and instructed on how to reinvent ourselves. You’ll be encouraged to lose weight, to join a gym, to build up a reading list, make changes to your career and start important home improvement projects.
Sounds exhausting, right?
Here’s the thing about New Year’s resolutions – they rarely work. On the one hand, they can be unhelpfully vague and poorly-defined (e.g. “I’m going to be healthier in 2018!”), so we don’t know quite what we’re aiming for or when we’ll get there.
We can also fall into the trap of announcing demanding resolutions because we feel we should. Other people are doing it and, whether it’s down to guilt or your competitive nature, you don’t want to get left out. So you “me too” yourself into an expensive gym membership you can’t get out of and rarely use.
If you’re keen to make some personal changes which will improve your life, congratulations. I won’t criticise you for that. But if you’re going to do it, let’s do it properly.
1. Clarify your goal
This is about moving it from a vague wish or aspiration to something that you can communicate clearly and accurately to someone else. So if you want to lose weight, how much? And by when? And what are you going to do to achieve this goal? If it’s a meaty and demanding goal, you might find it useful to break it down into discrete and manageable mini-goals.
2. Align it with your values
To give this goal meaning and relevance in your life, see which of your values it supports. And if you’re unclear on your values, check out this blog post and then download our values cards to get started. If your goal is clearly aligned with the values that give your life meaning, it’s more likely to be something you’ll actively work towards.
3. Consider the obstacles
It’s important to be realistic, so think about what might get in your way as you move towards your goal. Tempting invitations to the pub, lethargy at the end of the day making it hard to go to the gym, that box of biscuits on top of the kitchen cupboard. Identify these obstacles and make a plan to overcome each. What will you say to yourself to overcome them? What can you do differently to reduce the impact of each?
4. Measure your performance
As you move towards achieving your goal, measure your progress. This can be motivating in itself and help you deal with unexpected obstacles.
In the coming weeks, our podcast “My Pocket Psych” is going to focus on the topic of productivity. We’ll look at how to prioritise, how to avoid procrastination and how to align your tasks with your life’s goals. If you’re planning on making productivity an area for your own personal development, or you worry your existing tendency to procrastinate will hamper your efforts at personal change, then tune in and let us know what you think.