January is a time for new beginnings and with 2018 on the horizon you may be beginning to think about those New Year’s resolutions!
The custom itself is said to have originated with the Babylonians some 4,000 years ago, when they hosted a 12 day religious festival known as Akitu during which they crowned a new king and made promises to their Pagan gods. If they kept those promises the gods would then bestow favours on them for the coming year. The practice was then continued with the Romans and early Christians, evolving over time to become the non-secular tradition it is in our modern age.
Today, setting ourselves a goal and resolving to make positive changes or improvements in our lives has become an almost unavoidable ritual as we transition in to a new year but why is it that so many fall by the roadside? In fact, 80% fail by the second week of February!*
According to psychotherapist Rachel Weinstein, co-director of the Portland, Maine-based Adulting School, part of the problem is that we often choose unrealistic goals under the false assumption that we can just ‘be a completely different person’.
And ‘after a few unsuccessful attempts to stick to the resolutions, we’re left with only a feeling of failure that makes it difficult to feel we are living up to our intentions’ continues psychologist, Joseph Luciani. ‘Ultimately, we end up feeling more discouraged from setting new goals’ he adds.
Whatever your goal for 2018 it’s guaranteed it will be made with good intentions in mind so how can we ensure that it is not a distant memory by the time Spring comes around?
1. Be realistic. There is no point in setting yourself a goal to workout five days a week when you already have a very packed schedule. Start small, perhaps with two sessions and work up from there or look at how you can build it in to your everyday life such as walking or cycling to the train station.
2. Be kind to yourself. Ditch the all or nothing attitude, putting yourself under unnecessary pressure, beating yourself up if you fall off of the wagon and don’t give up. Just keep trying, taking each day one at a time and giving yourself a pat on the back for every step in the right direction. Don’t forget, research suggests it takes at least 21 days to form a habit!
3. Seek the support of friends and family. Tell them what you want to achieve and ask them to be your champions, cheering you on from the sidelines. Seek someone out who has already achieved your goal and can help guide you or team up with somebody with the same resolution. Perhaps you and your partner are both determined to eat healthier – sit down to devise a meal plan for the week ahead, cook together and make dinner a sociable time where you can enjoy each other’s company over delicious and nutrious food.
4. Stay focused on YOU in the here and now. Don’t compare your own progress to others. You don’t know what their journey is about or how far along it they are. Remember, to give yourself a motivational boost by celebrating your successes and milestones. Finally, try to become aware of your emotional and physical state in the moment in order to stay grounded in the present rather than living in the past or the future. By doing this you focus upon the things you can do today to reach your goal making it seem more manageable.
5. Schedule. It’s all too easy to say ‘I don’t have time’ but if we actually schedule our new goals in to our diaries we are automatically prioritising them and as such they become a non-negotiable. If you want to de-clutter for example, pop a time to clean out your closet in to your calendar. If you want to spend less keep a detailed spreadsheet of your finances with a clear budget to which you have to stick and keep referring back to it.
Whatever your goal in 2018, we wish you luck in achieving it!