New Year's Resolutions: tips on sticking to them

I've mentioned in blog posts before that I stick to around half my New Year's Resolutions each year, which is actually all I aim to stick to so I'm bang on target, so I wanted to share some tricks I've found for sticking to them for more than three days.

We're now in the second month on 2016 and I think a lot of people are pretending they were using January as a practice month. Have you been for a run every morning? Have you stopped eating chocolate and processed food? Have you quit your job? Have you got your eye on a new house? Have you saved up enough money to take you and your spouse and 2.4 (or whatever it is) children away for a nice, rural holiday, perhaps even glamping - that's the new camping, right? - for a week in summer so the kids can appreciate that nature is true beauty like you read in National Geographic, the subscription you bought on a cheap offer even though you doubt you'll read more than two pages of the second copy?

Nah, probably not. If you have, I have no idea why you're reading this. Serious kudos to you, 'cause you're doing far better than I am.

First of all, let's change "new year's resolutions" to "2016 to-do list". Seems a bit odd, I know, but everyone knows the satisfaction of ticking things off a to-do list, compared to the spirit-crushing agony of keeping to resolutions.

So now you have a list of things you want to do by the end of 2016. Even with the best will in the world, no one can change their entire lifestyle in the space between December 31st 23.59 and January 1st 00.01, and the worst thing you can do is expect this - it'll only get you down if you can't do it. So see these tasks as things to do by the end of the year, not to do every single day/week/second of it. If that means you only start some in April or September, so be it.

It's so, so easy to genuinely forget about your New Year's Resolutions; it sounds like total rubbish but it's not. When you've got a busy as ought week, you grab a quick meal and suddenly you've totally forget about a habit of healthy eating you didn't even realise you'd slipped out of. Write your list down and keep it somewhere you'll frequently see it - the back on a calendar diary works a treat.

If you've got quite a few things on your list, juggle them. Especially if they're big tasks and you think you can't deal with them all at once. Say, focus on one for a week, then another for a different week, until they become more a part of your usual routine and you can balance them. Or, wean one in till it's a natural habit, then build them up.

If you get a sudden burst of motivation (even if you think it'll only last a week) harness it. Even if they only come once every few months. It's better than nothing, and they might become more frequent if you keep it up, til eventually... yep, it's a natural habit.

This is generally something to prepare at the start of the year, so you might be a little late, but it can be done month to month or even day to day if you want - note down how much/what you do each week. Not to guilt trip yourself if you don't do someone enough one week, but so you can notice your improvement. Day to day it might not feel like you're improving, but if you look back and see you read two more book or went to the gym four more times in one month than the previous one, well, you know you're getting better. If the reverse happens, you know you're well capable of doing as much as you've done previously.

Last but not least - change them. Not just randomly, or if you've given up, but say your New Year's Resolution was to drop a dress size, and then you decided you'd actually rather be happy with your current size, it only makes sense to adjust it.

And as one of my own resolutions was to blog more... well, you'll notice it's coming in intermittent bursts.

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