5 tips for New Year's resolutions that won't weigh you down
Over the last few years, there’s been a real backlash against making New Year’s resolutions. It’s been a tough time of late, so the last thing we need is to put more pressure on ourselves when there are so many other things to worry about. Besides, the 'old you' got you this far!
And yet the New Year is a great opportunity for a reset, reflecting on your past experiences to look ahead with more confidence. What better way to make that happen than by resolving to commit to positive changes?
Here are some guidelines for how you can make a difference and benefit from achievable New Year's resolutions.
1. Think small(ish)
A key issue isn’t to do with the actual concept of resolutions, it's the scope. It doesn’t have to take a grand, sweeping gesture to make the world a better place for yourself or those around you.
In James Clear’s bestseller, Atomic Habits, he talks about tiny changes bringing remarkable results. With one small, regular improvement, you can significantly enhance an outcome over time.
For a good example of this in practice, just look at saving. If you put away the price of a shop-bought coffee every day instead of heading to the local Pret, you’ll have over £1,000 at the end of the year (more than enough to invest in a decent coffee machine after all that filter coffee).
You obviously don’t have to think this small. But if saving is your goal, you could aim for 5% of your monthly income and build up to more, rather than starting with a figure that will hit your lifestyle much harder.
2. Be realistic (and patient)
Most diets fail. Yes, it’s because chocolate is delicious, but it’s also because people set their expectations too high, too soon, and get disheartened when they don’t meet them. Perhaps that’s why around 80% of New Year’s resolutions are dropped by early February.
Success is a fantastic motivator, but failure? Well, not so much.
You’ll know that when you invest sensibly, you’ll see more growth through compound interest as time goes on, but this doesn’t just apply to money. James Clear suggests that habits are the compound interest of self-improvement. Drip feed a small behavioural change day by day, and over time you’ll see genuine results, whether it’s speaking better French, running an extra mile or perfecting that homemade loaf.
As your regular efforts become habits, they become easier too, making them ultimately much more achievable. Just try not to nurture the bad ones, as it works both ways!
3. Focus on the journey
When it comes to resolutions, the trick is not to get too hung up on goals and results. The journey is the key to reaching the destination. Every team wants to be the champion, but it’s how they train and ultimately play that will make it happen or not – not their desire to win.
Of course, it can be helpful to track your progress (realistic targets only, please), but when it takes time to get there and you hit a plateau, that can be demotivating. It’s only through a system of improvements – forming lasting good habits – that you’ll get where you want to be. It helps if you enjoy them too!
Let’s say you want to read more this year. Rather than committing to an aggressive target of X books per month, how about setting up a cosy corner that makes you want to read more often?
4. Get ready to adapt
Things don’t always go to plan, something we’re all too aware of after the couple of years we’ve just had. As well as things happening beyond our control, we’ll all make our own mistakes at times, lose willpower and veer off course.
Don’t let this be a reason to stop your new good habits. Dust yourself off, remember why you’re doing it and get back on track as soon as you can. And if that original path is no longer relevant, don’t be afraid to adjust it.
5. Reframe what resolutions mean
Think of making resolutions as an opportunity rather than an obligation – a framework for improvement rather than something you must begrudgingly do.
While it may not be easy to embed better habits, it shouldn’t feel like a perpetual chore, or something that takes you away from the people, places or things that you love. Remember: the whole point is to improve your life, not make it worse!
Making this your year
The New Year is a time to be grateful and reflect, not on your shortfalls or failures, but on your achievements and dreams. It's less about creating a 'new you' and more about making sure the person you are does good things and enjoys the life you deserve.
If your goals are financial or include retiring early, we’re here to help you set the right plan and build the best habits to reach your destination.
Contact us today to get started.