So, the fun, joy and positivity of New Year festivities is over, and now the hard work of sticking to a resolution really begins.
We see the new year as a clean slate, a chance to start again and hit reboot. This is a wonderfully positive mindset, and one that should be applauded. Congratulations on using a stimulus to try and make your life better, and for setting a date to make it happen. Now the tricky part. If history teaches us anything, you’re going to need all the help you can get. Nearly 50% of adults in the West admit to frequently making New Year’s Resolutions. Approximately 80% of those Resolutions will be broken before the year is over.
Resolutions can take many forms, from saving 10k to spending more time with family, or just trying to get in shape. Whatever it is, you’ve already started, and well done for that. Worried it might not go the distance? Never fear people, Itchy Quill can make this a great year for you, and help you go ahead and make 2015 your own.
1. Be Realistic
OK, so you really, really want that beach body/smoke free life/ability to lift a car, but know that between the current, flabby/chain-smoking/weakling self of the present and the god or godess of your dream self stands a mental block of insurmountable turmoil, struggle and failure. Come on guys, be a little kinder on yourself. If you have spent the last 15 years of your life smoking a 20 pack a day, you probably won’t be able to just stop smoking like that. You need to set a goal that is realistic. How about cutting it down to ten a day, and then taking it from there? The easiest way to guarantee failure is to make the goal unattainable. Don’t be that guy.
2. Plan Ahead
It is very rare that you can motivate yourself to do something as life changing as most resolutions are, simply by will-power alone. It will more than likely require a high level of planning, and the essence of planning is it’s done in advance. Make sure you know what pitfalls await, and mentally prepare yourself with the necessary energy and derring-do that will aid your fulfilment.
3. Set Goals (With Rewards)
Make sure you have some regular checkpoints so as to track your progress and make sure you are on target. With smoking, this could be the measurable health benefits at set moments like 12 hours, 24 hours, 72 hours, three weeks, and so on. When you hit these targets, be sure to reward yourself, perhaps spending the money you save from the pack of cigarettes you haven’t smoked on a treat, or sneaking a chocolate bar after you’ve managed to complete a week of your diet. Whatever works, stick with it. You are far more likely to stay on track with something if you positively reinforce the choice you made to start doing it in the first place.
4. Keep Changes Small, Then Build On Your Success
You won’t go from a 10 stone weenie to a 16 stone monster overnight, and the effort required to get from your initial state to your final dream will fluctuate. Each triumph is a new benchmark, and you must build on each victory to ensure you perpetuate this success. Eventually, this will become natural, but it takes time to programme your mind. You can’t just force it.
5. Keep Focused and Remember Why
Don’t let yourself forget the reason you started doing this in the first place. Are you on your crash diet to fit into your summer wedding dress? Perhaps you have quit smoking for the Tokyo marathon? Are you trying to save money so as to take your grandparents to visit Iceland? Whatever the reason, don’t let yourself forget it. That impetus is crucial, especially in the darker days when temptation strikes. Keep your eyes on the prize, and grasp it thee shall.
6. Go Easy on Yourself
We can all be so horrible to ourselves, and oddly enough this internal monologue can be such a detrimental bully that we fail before external obstacles even get a chance to have a go. Remember that we are all just humans, victims of impulses and urges. These primal compulsions are mostly natural, and the majority of people struggle to overcome them. Give yourself a chance, and keep picking yourself up and dusting yourself off if you do slip up. If you can have your own back, you can pretty much achieve anything. Don’t stop believing, and just keep doing the best you can each day.
7. Keep on Truckin’
Experts say that any activity takes around 21 days to become a habit (or 21 days to undo a habit, such as smoking), and around six months to become a part of your personality. Nothing happens instantly, so just stick at it. It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
8. Don’t give up
Finally, if it gets really bad, and your vice finally gets a grip on you, don’t give up. A little failure can be overcome, but giving up entirely can’t be. It isn’t over until you say it is, and ultimately you don’t ever have to say it is. Keep going, stay true to yourself and let your dreams become goals that become actualised realities. You’re human, like everyone else. And you can be a success or a failure, just like anyone else.
Whatever your resolution, this is the year to make it a reality. There is nothing stopping you except yourself, and I am sure you want the best for yourself, right?
No more excuses. You want it, it’s there, so get it. Good luck, you can do it!
Special thanks to ambro, AscensionDigital, EA, Imagerymajestic, Sira Anamwong, JamesBarker, StockImages and Samuiblue @ FreeDigitalPhotos.net for use of their photos in this blog.
© Itchy Quill and ItchyQuill.WordPress.com, 2015