New Year New You?
Happy New Year! The beginning of each year seems to bring a fresh deluge of articles on New Year’s Resolutions – a million mixed messages about how to change your life, what you could be doing, what you should be doing, how to be a better person and be fitter, healthier, richer…so much noise!
There is little point (and definitely no psychological gain) from making resolutions just for the sake of making them. We’ve decided to turn things around this year and focus on how to make resolutions that are actually honest and realistic – so they just might stick!
Instead of lofty grand ideals, try breaking your resolutions down into achievable goals. That way they become measurable and you will feel a sense of real achievement when you reach your goal.
If your resolution is to declutter your house, then instead of banning all toys from downstairs forever, try to gradually introduce a new way of managing the mess. Maybe you could allocate a ‘downstairs’ storage box for toys to tidy up and take upstairs or at least put away at the end of each day. Or if you have older children, encourage them to bring down what they want to play with then take it back to their bedrooms afterwards. Decide to deal with one or two bits of ‘clutter’ every day, bin them or house them and you will soon find you’re making progress.
The point is that you are more likely to succeed if you aim to incorporate realistic, small changes to your every day life rather than aiming too high and setting yourself up to fail.
Let people know! You are much more likely to succeed when you share your intentions with the people who care about you and can support you, particularly if you are faced with a temptation or difficult hurdle.
Changing behaviour can be achieved through incremental changes that gradually become habitual. Do not underestimate the power of repetition. Creating a new habit requires repetition and a commitment to performing the activity regularly. You will also need a level of discipline to get over any initial resistance you may have as well as ongoing commitment.
Some recent studies argue that relying on willpower alone is not enough; if you think of willpower as an emotion that can both come and go, you need other strategies to affect your environment and help you build new habits. Most important is to focus on changes that you find inspiring – that way you stand a better chance of building new habits with your willpower on your side.
Track your progress. You can choose from a multitude of apps to provide you with timely support and motivation for just about every goal going, or simply record your progress with pen and paper. The act of recording your wins can go a long way to help keep you motivated.
Persistence is key! It can be easy to fall at the first hurdle and think negatively that you’re never going to succeed. But this is exactly when you need to keep going. Think about what triggered that setback and make a plan for how you could respond differently next time and try again. And remember that through your own actions you are showing your children the benefits of determination and resilience – you’re helping them to learn invaluable life skills. Keep going and persevere.
Express gratitude. This is important and can really help to inspire you and generate positivity. Reflect on three things that happened each day or that are happening in your life right now that you are grateful for. They may not be directly related to your New Year Resolutions but you just might find they help you to approach your life more mindfully. Take a bit of time out to reflect on the positives of being a parent and the joy that children bring to your life. Gratitude for all that you already have can help to ground you and act as a powerful motivational tool to help you achieve your goals.
Take care of YOU
Look after yourself. Whatever you’re trying to achieve this year, remember you can only take care of yourself and the other people in your life by looking after number one. It’s so easy to let your own priorities slide in our busy modern lives, especially when you’re looking after little ones but you have a duty of care to yourself: take a bit of time out whenever you can, even if it’s just for five minutes to sit down with a coffee and read a bit of a book; try to eat healthily, go out every day for some fresh air and make sure you get enough sleep. It’s really important to remember to give yourself a break when you have the opportunity, so next time your baby’s napping, or your little one’s at nursery or school, don’t jump into taking on all the washing and all the housework, carve out a few moments just for you.
Looking after yourself can help you to feel stronger and more positive about taking on your goals.
Be mindful with your goal-setting, take it one step at a time and we’d love to hear how you get on!