How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolution for 2019

“Change might not be fast and it isn’t always easy. But with time and effort, almost any habit can be reshaped.” 

Charles Duhigg

January is approaching and with the turn of the new-year this provides the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past year and think about what your aspirations are for 2019. Here are some of the approaches I use to help my patients and clients create new healthy lifestyle habits including healthy eating, increasing physical activity, managing stress and anxiety, and weight loss.

 

Set some positive, clear goals

Setting goals is an important part of trying to achieve a change (1). Be clear about what you want to achieve over the next year. Ask yourself, “Where do I want to be a year from now?”.  If you could wave a magic wand and get what you wanted for your health and happiness what would it look like?

A resolution is “a firm decision to do or not to do something” (2). When setting goals I like to focus on a decision to do something rather than not do something. This means stating it in the positive – say what you want not what you don’t want! Allow me to use an example to explain, “I want to eat a healthy balanced diet and feel happier in my body”  has a positive  focus on doing something, in contrast to “I want to avoid eating chocolate and stop worrying about feeling fat”.  Notice the difference?

 

Why are these goals important to you?

Now that you have decided on your goals for the year ahead, think about why your goals are important to you. This can help you to identify what is motivating you towards this goal in the year ahead (3). Ask yourself “why is this important to me?”.  Some examples of why it might be important for you to make healthy eating a new years resolution are:

  • To lose weight
  • To be able to enjoy clothes shopping
  • To prevent your risk of diabetes
  • To be a role model for your family 

You might like to remind yourself of your motivations when things aren’t going to plan and you are faced with challenges to help get you back on track.

 

Next, break your goal down in to small, realistic and achievable action steps.

It’s okay to dream big and set ambitious goals but it can be overwhelming and your motivation might wane if it doesn’t feel achievable.  Be specific, realistic and break them down in to achievable chunks.  Using the previous example, if your resolution is to eat a healthy balanced diet and feel happier in your body, then an small action step towards this might be “I’m going to eat 2 extra portions of vegetables with my evening meal during the week” rather than, “I’m going to eat more vegetables” which is more vague. (4)

Consider setting yourself a new action step each month with your New Year’s resolution in mind. Set a reminder in your calendar to review your resolution and check in on your progress at the end of each month.

 

Do you need support?

Although some people prefer to approach their resolution alone for fear of the “pressure” of other people’s expectations. It can be helpful to involve friends and family in your resolution by sharing your goals.  Without support and accountability, we don’t always do what we know we should, we become stuck in a rut.  It’s really useful to have someone to hold us to the highest version of ourselves.

 

Lastly, be flexible and curious

We are our own worst critic. Instead of being overly critical and negative when things aren’t going to plan, approach each set back with curiosity, reflecting on what didn’t work well and what might need to be addressed to enable you to move forward.

I hope this inspires you to think  of a new years resolution and take action to make it come to life in the year ahead.  Wishing you a 2019 filled with health and happiness! 

 

 

 

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29189034
  2. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/resolution
  3. https://selfdeterminationtheory.org/SDT/documents/2000_DeciRyan_PIWhatWhy.pdf
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21749245
  5. DuhiggCharles. (2012) The power of habit:why we do what we do in life and business New York : Random House,. MLA Citation. DuhiggCharles.

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Hello and welcome! I’m Dr Helen Lawal. You’re in the right place if you’re curious about health, nutrition, exercise, well-being and lifestyle medicine….

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