New Year’s Resolutions: how to stick to the plan

Make small, mindful choices instead of sweeping resolutions

Have you thought about what’s in store for you next year?

New year’s resolutions aren’t always all they cracked up to be, often because we might make promises to ourselves that aren’t realistic, and which we can’t realistically keep.

The best choices are the ones that are based on thoughtful contemplation, realistic time-frames, and which build upon resources and capacities we already have.

Think about some of the changes you’d like to make in your life: what small choices can you make to get you there more easily?

To give a very basic example, instead of, “I will lose 10 kgs”, how about, “I’m going to stop buying myself a doughnut after I do the shopping”. You have much more control over the latter!

Most of the big decisions we make are not made spur-of-the-moment. Even if it feels that way, contemplation of the issue (“It’s been in the back of my mind…”) has probably been occurring  for some time. We therefore need to be realistic about the time we allocate to the change.

A realistic time-frame doesn’t mean that we should put things off (ask yourself, what will I gain if I put this off until xyz?). Rather it means being realistic about how making the change is going to take a little time to begin to feel like the new normal.

When thinking about a new choice you want to make, what do you already do, possess, or have knowledge of that you can draw on to make this new choice easier?

It can be really simple, like the feeling you had when you were at a healthy weight, or remembering back to a time when you didn’t have to include money for smoking in your budget.

It can be being really present in a moment of fear about your new choice and doing it just once anyway, and thereafter having created one moment of experience of the thing you want.

(And it doesn’t have to be about things in the past – it can be a vision you have of yourself in the future, like seeing yourself speaking confidently and calmly to a group of people where previously you might have felt very anxious.)

Some of the changes we make happen simply and effortlessly. We decide, we do, and it is done. Be open to the possibility of that.

But also, be gentle. We all have enough outside pressures to deal with without putting undue pressure on ourselves. So, as the clock ticks over by all means celebrate the new year!  For many of us, that in itself is a huge achievement. Beyond that, and rather than making sweeping, big-picture New Year’s Resolutions, why not consider how you can make smaller, new choices that align with what you want for yourself in 2017?