Are your New Year goals too much?

It’s hard to resist the temptation to start the New Year by punishing ourselves  – everyone is talking about New Year’s goals– how much weight they are going to lose (by starving themselves!), how they are going to work out every day, all the things they are NOT going to do. It’s all a bit depressing. I’d like to encourage you to be a bit kinder this year – and here are some ideas:

Always CHOOSE to make the change that you have decided upon. Don’t decide to do something because you think you SHOULD do it or because everyone else is doing it. An example here is Dry January. For the last 5 years or more I have CHOSEN to do Dry January. I look forward to it. For me it’s a month off – no social engagements, no late nights, no groggy mornings. I relish the hibernation that I can achieve in January and focus on all the benefits: rest, relaxation and recuperation, more reading, more daytime plans, spending less – I could go on. But it might not be for you and that is OK – don’t force it.

Dedicate some time to thinking about what you want to achieve in 2023. I sat down for 40 minutes and completed Emily Bal’s “My Extraordinary Plan” on Monday. Emily is an amazing confidence coach that I’ve had the pleasure of collaborating with and I love her pragmatic approach. I’ve been completing her plan for a few years now. It starts with a reflection on 2022 and finishes with a focus on what you want out of 2023. It really helped me hone in on what was important to me and base my plans for this year on those things, rather than on unachievable notions of success.

Rather than focus on the things you are NOT going to do, switch to thinking about all the things you ARE going to do: for example move more, make healthier food choices, drink more water, make more time for relaxation, get more sleep. This positive shift can be really effective as we move away from deprivation and towards abundance.

Write down your goals and break them down. I have a very structured approach when I start working with clients on my 6 week programme. We start with long-term, non-time bound goals – ie what is it that you ultimately want to achieve? We then break these down into 10 week goals – ie what will your life look like in 10 weeks’ time? And then each time we meet we set goals for the week ahead, identifying barriers and working out specific actions. This approach ensures that you’ve thought through what is realistic within a given timeframe and means that you are more likely to achieve your goals as you’ve considered the barriers at each step and identified the actions you need to take in order to achieve each goal, with the help and support of me, your coach.

Challenge your goals. This is key – are you expecting too much of yourself? Are your goals unrealistic? If a friend shared these goals with you would you think they were overstretching themselves? It’s far better to choose small changes that you know you can easily incorporate than audacious goals that set you up for failure. Examples of some small changes are:

Incorporating a 12 hour fast between dinner and breakfast five days a week

Ensuring you drink 1.5L of water a day

Eating 5-6 portions of vegetables a day

Increasing your daily steps by 20%

Reflect on your success. Keeping a journal of your achievements and making the time to reflect on them is key to sustaining your motivation to achieve your goals. This doesn’t have to be anything other than a simple journal where at the end of the day you write down at least three things you are proud of that you’ve achieved today or three positive things that happened. It’s a great habit in itself that could form part of your New Year’s resolutions

gentle goals journal

Reward yourself when you achieve your goals, or even when you take steps towards achieving them. Rewards don’t have to be expensive – it could be giving yourself an hour off to read, taking a bath, applying a face mask. Rewarding yourself in this way keeps you focussed and motivated and then you will be far more likely to stick to your new habits.

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