It’s that time of year when New Year's resolutions begin to unravel. The days are short and cold, motivation drops and good intentions start to fade. In fact, today is Quitter’s Day, according to online App Strava who analysed nearly 100 million activities from January last year to conclude that 17th January is the day most people’s New Year’s resolutions bite the dust.
If you are maintaining your resolutions and feel confident going forward, keep on doing what you are doing and enjoy the results. If you have already abandoned yours, or your commitment is beginning to wobble, here are a few ideas to help you keep on track.
Find a buddy Find someone who will help you with your endeavours. If you are exercising for example, having a buddy to do it with really helps – whether you're running, cycling, going to the gym or a class. If your resolution is more of a solo endeavour, share your intentions with someone supportive, maybe a friend, family member, colleague or a coach. Set up a regular check-in to report on your progress and get the encouragement you need to keep you on track.
Plan and prioritise Make sure to create time and space to work on what you resolved to achieve at New Year. Most things that we want to change need dedicated time, so plan time in your diary and make time for yourself a priority.
Set a clear goal If you haven’t already, set a specific goal, expressed in the language of what you want, rather than what you don’t want or you want to not have any more. For example ‘I want to lose 5kg’ is more motivational when expressed as a positive goal of ‘I want to weigh 65kg by the end of February.'
Connect with your goal When you’ve set a goal, become more deeply connected with what it will do for you. A simple exercise to try, that comes from the Five-Minute Coach, involves asking yourself some simple questions. You start with: "When I have this goal, then what happens?" Using the weight example, the question would be: "And when I weigh 65kg by the end of February, then what happens?"
Next, take this further by asking: “and then what happens?” and ask this question multiple times, always about the last answer. In the example, let’s assume the first response is “I will look better.” Asking the “and then what happens?” question a number of times will lead to a string of answers which might list something like: “I will feel better”, “then I will be able to buy some new clothes”, “then I will be more confident”, “then I can start to apply for new jobs”, “then I will get onto the career path I want”, and so on. So in this case, rather than focusing on weight loss, or even on a weight goal, the individual is motivated by being able to kick-start the career they want. Who’d have thought! You might be surprised by your answers to this question – and find much more motivation to keep your resolution.
Visualise your goal Imagine what you will see, hear and feel when you have achieved your goal. Find a picture or something that represents your achievement and place it somewhere where you will see it often.
Persist It has long been thought that it takes 22 days to form a habit. In fact a recent study says that on average it takes 66 days. So if you want to make a change in the way you think, act and behave, keep working at it until it becomes your default.
Finally, when you next make resolutions, be sure they are about things that you really want, not what you think you should do, or that others want you to do. Then use some or all of the ideas here to make sure that you buck the Quitter’s Day trend.