As we approach the start of the New Year, many of us will be planning our resolutions for 2016 with the best of intentions.
However, it’s suggested that over 25% of us will ditch our New Year’s resolutions after just 1 week, with half of us failing to stick to them within 3 months.
In fact, an academic study found that as few as 19% of people could have long term success with their resolutions.
So why do so many of our New Year’s resolutions fail?
One of the main reasons that New Year’s resolutions fail is that they are too vague, without a plan of how to achieve the goal, or how success will be measured.
“I’m going to lose weight”
“I’m eating healthy this year”
Both of these are great aims. But without a degree of specificity about how they are going to be achieved and measured, they are going to be hard to stick to and succeed with.
An acronym that is often used when setting objectives is SMART: making sure your objective is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound.
Using this framework loosely, we could improve these initial resolutions:
“I’m planning to lose 1 stone over the first three months of 2016. I’m going to achieve this by taking exercise three times per week and cutting out snacking in between meals.”
“I’m planning to eat more healthily in 2016. I’m going to achieve this by replacing fizzy drinks with water, and replacing sugary desserts with fresh fruit. I’ll review at the end of March, and see how I can adjust/improve the plan”
Another reason why a lot of resolutions fail, is that they are far too ambitious from the very start. Not only does this make you less likely to achieve your goals when you begin to fall short and become demotivated…being too ambitious can also be extremely dangerous when it relates to diet or exercise.
Tying into the “achievable” aspect of the SMART framework, Forbes recommends that you’re likely to enjoy success by focusing on small lifestyle changes that will have permanent results rather than ‘pie in the sky’ goals that are unrealistic.
Trying to do too much all at once.
When setting resolutions, The Guardian suggests that we should perhaps reassess our understanding of the concept of “willpower”. Rather than viewing will power as an inherent characteristic of a person (“they have great willpower”, “I don’t have the willpower” etc.), it’s suggested that we envisage that we all have a ‘store’ of willpower – and our likely success with sticking to resolutions is dependent on making sure our ‘store’ doesn’t get depleted.
Trying to avoid sugary foods when you’re not used to it takes willpower, stopping smoking takes willpower, sticking to your exercise routine takes willpower…trying to do everything all at once will deplete your store of willpower quickly, and you may be more likely to fail.
The good news is that like a muscle, willpower is something that can be trained and developed over time – there are a number of studies and books on the subject. But in the immediate term, it might be best just to stick to one resolution at a time to give you the best chance of success!
Pro active tips to set and keep New Year’s resolutions
One of the most concise yet valuable guides to keeping your New Year’s resolutions comes from Lifehack, who have previously published a nice seven step guide.
It’s worth taking a look – we’ve summarised the key points they mention below:
- Just pick one thing. It is very easy to find a lot of areas to improve on, but to make an achievable goal, it is important to stick to one goal at a time.
- Plan ahead. Be well informed about the resolution you are about to make, set specific targets along the way.
- Anticipate problems. Try to think of any potential issues, so that when you come across them, you can be well prepared.
- Pick a start date. Just because it is a new year’s resolution, it doesn’t have to begin on new year’s day! Make sure you set a start date that gives you the best possible chance of success.
- Go for it. Don’t hold back! Once you’ve started your resolution, go for it 100%
- Accept failure. If you do happen to have a momentary lapse, don’t beat yourself up. Accept it as a minor setback and try to learn from it.
- Plan rewards. If it is going well, treat yourself! Make sure to reward your successes, then you have something to look forward to!
Three Experts Share Their Advice For A Happier, Healthier 2016
Get Organised by Amanda Manson
We asked Amanda, from Orderly Office and Home for some tips on being successful with your resolution to de-clutter your home.
A New Year brings the idea of starting afresh in your home and in your workspace. “I’ll sort through those photos in January” you say. “Time to clear out my filing cabinet” you announce. Truth is, January gets underway and you’re so busy getting on with life that you never seem to find the time…
Whilst the thought of decluttering might seem like a major task at first, regular sorting will maintain your clear space and pay dividends over time. More time, money saved, less stress.
So to help you start 2016 off on the right foot, here are 5 tips for getting yourself more organised, by decluttering and sorting your space;
- What’s your ‘why’?
Without a reason to make a change or a goal in mind you’ve no impetus to get going. Whether it’s a deadline you have to meet or a level of orderliness that you want to achieve, what will be the thing that gets you moving? Write it down and put it somewhere visible or tell someone else your plans. Keep this as your focus throughout!
- One step at a time.
Little and often is the way to go, especially if you’ve a lot to tackle on your own. Whilst you might start decluttering with gusto, an hour into it you’ll be drifting off into old rediscovered photos or reading a long-lost magazine and just about anything else will seem far more interesting than the task in hand! A half hour spent here and there rather than a whole day will hold your enthusiasm and be more productive in the long run.
- Need it, use it, love it?
Work your way through cupboards, drawers, counter-tops, under beds and sort what you find. When making your decision on whether to keep something, ask yourself ‘Do I need it, use it, or love it?’ If the answer is no, then perhaps it’s time to let go?
- Get it out, Keep it out.
Whilst sorting use 4 boxes, bags, crates or whatever you have to hand, labelled ‘Keep’, ‘Sell/charity’, ‘Recycle/repurpose’ and ‘Bin’. Anything you no longer want should be removed as soon as possible once you’ve finished for the day. Moving them into a spare room simply moves the problem! Try organising the day before bin collections, or take a trip to the charity shop on the same day.
- What you need, when you want it.
The right storage is important for keeping your things organised. But don’t buy until you’ve decluttered – then you’ll know what you have left to put away! Store ‘like with like’ and keep frequently used items in easier to reach places.
Succeeding with Excercise by Daren Headley
One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to do more exercise, so we got in touch with personal trainer and MMA strength and conditioning coach Daren Headley, from Slaphead and Giraffe podcast, for some tips on how to stick to your plan:
- Limit your resolutions.
Don’t try to cut out chocolate, quit smoking, work out 7 days a week and increase your salary by 20% all in one go. Choose your priority, crack it and then move on to the next one.
- Make your resolutions achievable.
If you have never lifted a weight before, don’t set yourself a resolution to deadlift 150kg by the end of the year. Instead, set yourself a target of, say, 50kg and then set a new target when you achieve this. If your target seems to far away you are more likely to give up on it.
- Try to enjoy it.
If your resolution is to lose weight or get fitter try to find ways to do this that you can enjoy. If you hate running, try something else. Circuit classes, swimming, Zumba. The more you enjoy what you are doing, the more likely you are to stick to it. The more you stick to it, the more chances you have to succeed.
- Share your resolutions with friends.
Letting your friends know about your resolutions makes you more likely to succeed in two ways. Firstly, you don’t want to let them down once you have shared your plan and goal. Also, they are less likely to lead you astray. If they know you are trying to give up smoking and they are real friends they will try to avoid smoking around you.
- Reward yourself.
If you are going to start a new exercise class that costs £5 a time, why not put an extra £5 in a jar each time you go. That way, when you have achieved 20 classes you have £100 put away to treat yourself to something nice. Likewise, if you are quitting smoking and used to smoke 20 a day, put the cost of the cigarettes in a jar each day. After three months you will be able to reward yourself with a nice holiday!
Get More Sleep
Finally, another great New Year’s resolution can be to try and get more sleep.
Once you are in the cycle of getting a bad night’s sleep, it is incredibly difficult to get out of it, however here are a couple of tips that can help you break the cycle and enjoy a better night’s sleep.
- Don’t waste time tossing and turning, get out of bed.
To maximise sleep efficiency, it is often counter productive to keep trying to get to sleep without success. Instead, you should move to a different room for a short time, i.e 30 minutes, and do a “sleep aware” activity, like reading a good book or listen to relaxing music. Hopefully, in this time, you will start to feel sleepy, at which point you should return to bed and try to drift off to sleep.
- Try spending less time in bed.
If the first method doesn’t appear to work, you should actually try shortening your time spent in bed, and instead only get into bed when you are ready to sleep. This helps your brain make the clear distinction that your bed is a place for sleep, and so when you get into bed, your brain is already getting ready to sleep, greatly increasing your sleep efficiency.
- Reduce the amount of blue light before bed
Bright light at night switches off the brains production of melatonin. This makes us take longer to fall asleep and we wake up less alert. But it’s not just the brightness of the light, it’s the colour. Natural daylight contains a lot of blue light and we are sensitive to that type of light – it’s the same type of light emitted by popular electronic devices such as tablets.
Fortunately this is one of the great areas where you can change things around really easily.
The best-though not necessarily the easiest solution is to just avoid all light-emitting devices in the bedroom. Keep tablets, smartphones and television out of the bedroom.
If this is too tricky then just turn everything off one hour before your chosen ‘settle to sleep’ time, or download some software that cleverly alters the colours that are put out by your computer or tablet at night. One example is f.lux available for most devices now.
Whatever your New Year’s resolutions may be, we hope these tips help you achieve success.
From all of us at Leesa, we wish you a very happy new year!