The Trick To Planning A New Years Resolution That Will Last! | by Joel Francis
As the end of 2021 and the start of 2022 approaches, many of us are looking forward to new life experiences and changes. For most people, this usually means creating a New Year's Resolution to help them achieve a lifestyle shift or push them to achieve something they have wanted to do for a long time. The idea behind a resolution at this time of year is that it is a new year and another chance to change something within a person's life that they can then carry on throughout 2022.
According to Statista, who surveyed over 2000 people in the UK in 2019, the 5 most common resolutions are as follows:
47% of resolutions - More exercise/improving fitness
44% of resolutions - Losing weight
41% of resolutions - Improving diet
31% of resolutions - Saving more money
18% of resolutions- Taking up a new hobby
However, as most people know, New Year's Resolutions tend to only last a month or two before people give up on them (statistics say that 43% of people give up on their Resolution within the first two months).
So this begs the question...
Is There An Effective Way To Commit And Execute A New Year's Resolution?
This depends on whether you want the convoluted answer or the short answer. The prior is a possible yes if you put effective strategies in place and consider multiple things; the latter is no. But let's take the optimistic view on Resolutions and break down exactly how to plan the perfect one.
Choosing The Right Time To Start
The first factor is to consider if New Year's is the right time for you personally to start a resolution. For many people, New Year's is when they choose a resolution because it's a new start and probably - more importantly - because of tradition and social trends (in the same way that giving something up for Lent has become a social trend.)
For many, this means that they are probably setting themselves up to fail. It can be tough to achieve something when people, especially Neurodiverse people, feel social pressure to complete a goal without a definite endpoint or outcome. For example, choosing to lose weight for a year starting on New Year's Eve because you've been forced or feel pressured to select a resolution isn't going to end well. Even if you want to lose weight, you choose to do it alongside everybody else because you feel pressured into it.
Instead of starting your Resolution on New Year's, it might work better if you start it two months later, in February when the pressure is off, and most people have forgotten about New Year's Eve and are focusing on their own busy lives. This will allow you to achieve your goals at your own pace and without the overarching social stress of what everybody else is doing.
QUICK TIP: Why not decide on a rough resolution before New Year's Eve and plan out a realistic path to achieve it during January before you start in February.
Planning Your Resolution
The key to goal planning is to work with measured goals that you can achieve effectively. Let's take all the health goals above and merge them into a "Being Healthy" resolution. It's not feasible or achievable because it's hard to understand what being healthy really means. Let's understand exactly how to compartmentalise this goal into smaller, more effective, measured goals that you can achieve.
The first thing you need to figure out is what being healthy means to you. Does it mean exercising more, losing weight, eating better? To some degree, it's probably a mix of all of them. So figure out exactly how much weight you want to lose and how much you want to exercise each day, and then start planning small achievable goals to reach that.
For example, if you want to end up walking 10,000 steps per day but you're only walking 8.000 at the moment, start off small - add between one hundred and five hundred steps to your walking for the first two weeks and then up it by that amount every two weeks until you reach your goal.
A similar approach can be taken with eating healthier; going all or nothing in terms of healthy eating probably isn't sustainable. Instead of eating salads seven days a week for two months and finding it hard, taking small steps and swapping out one or two meals for a salad and a sugary snack for a protein bar is probably a more effective way to build a baseline and grow from it.
QUICK TIP: It's easier and more effective to start off with small goals and let them grow naturally as to not get overwhelmed.
Keeping Up The Habit
They say that it takes 21 days to form a habit, but during or after that time, you may "fall off the wagon" of your Resolution and slip into old ways. This is ok and might even be a natural part of the process; the key is to be aware and correct the pattern as soon as possible. There are a few ways to do this, but the most effective way is to keep track of your habit every day and make sure you reach the minimum goal you have set yourself while looking out for dips that fall away from the new routine.
I hope this article has helped you decide on a resolution and confidence to complete your goals. Take it slowly and be kind to yourself when forming your new habit, and throughout the learning process, you will be just fine. Remember, your aims are your own and should not be defined by other people!