Happy New Year! And How To Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

January 7, 2014

Did you make  New Year’s Resolutions? If not then today is the day to make some.
Last day of Christmas was yesterday and today is the day for New Beginnings.

What is a New Year’s resolution?

I make a clear distinction between general goal-setting and making plans versus New Year’s resolutions. And Wikipedia agrees, a New Year’s resolution is a commitment to personal self-improvement. Basically it is about becoming a better version of yourself.
What are some typical New Year’s resolutions?

  • Lose weight
  • Eat more healthy
  • Stop drinking soda
  • Read more books
  • Work less
  • Spend more time with family

Do some of these sound familiar? When we look back on previous years we may realise that many of  our  New Year’s Resolutions have not materialised. Why is that? Why didn’t we keep the commitments we gave to ourselves? And how can we do better this time?
New Year's Eve

Becoming a better version of yourself

For  years I have made  New Year’s resolutions and have learned the hard way which ones work and which ones don’t. Here is my take on what you need to do to make your New Year’s Resolutions work for you. It is my recipe for you to becoming a better version of yourself and to make this year your best yet.
1. Think positive
“We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thoughts. With our thoughts, we make the world.” Buddha
Just by changing your attitude you can have Your Best Year Yet. How you feel is up to you and has very little to do with your circumstances. This can be a tough bite to swallow when things are rough and you don’t see a way out. This is when the following poem has helped me as well as surrounding myself with supporting people.
Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
Practice positiveness by turning negative thoughts into positive ones.Change no’s and do not’s into a positive communication. Give constructive feedback instead of negative comments. Put yourself into other people’s shoes to understand their negative words and actions. Turn negative events into a positive learning for the future.
2. Be Grateful
We have all something to be grateful for, no matter what is going on in our lives. This is a question of recognising all the things that we can possibly be grateful for, whether we take them for granted or not. When we practice gratefulness our lives become better without anything having changed except our attitude. The recommended method for practicing gratefulness is to keep a gratitude journal but there are also other ways and everyone has to find a method that works for them. I recommend taking a picture with your phone every day that symbolises what you can be grateful for and posting it online for your reference and also to share your gratefulness with your friends.
3. Say Thank You
Realising that we are grateful for the people in our lives is one thing but it is even more important to let those people know that we value them. A sincerely expressed “Thank You” doesn’t just lift the other person’s mood but also your own. See if you can find ways to be more thankful on a daily basis. Also take a look at your life so far and especially 2013 and see if there are persons who you would like to thank, even if you have no regular contact with them today.
4. Assess Your Wheel of Life
Look at different areas of your life; your family, your friends, your financials, your health, your love life, your career/business, you…What are you happy about? What could have been better? Is there anything you are unhappy with that you want to change? Are you sure you want to change it? Are you ready to make the necessary sacrifices to change bad habits or to acquire new ones?  What areas can you improve in your life? What would make you feel good and better than today?
5. Make SMART resolutions
Pick 1-3 habits that you want to focus on. Picking only a few habits increases the likelihood of follow-through.
Be clear on why you want to focus on these habits. Understand your underlying feelings keeps you motivated.
Follow the SMART rules as in Specific – Measurable – Attainable/Aspirational – Realistic/Relevant – Time-bound.
We already have the T since this is a New Year’s resolution and the time given is one year or until December 31st. It is up to us to be clear on the SMAR.
Eat more healthy – is not SMART
Eat five (fruit & vegetables) a day – is SMART
6. Focus on a daily habit
Having an aspirational goal for the year and not breaking it down into a daily habit is like having a vision but no strategy for execution which is number one reason why most companies fail to achieve their vision. And we are going to do better by focusing on habits instead of a big far-away goal.
Breaking down a goal:
Read 26 books – is a goal for one year
Read 2 books – is a goal for one month
Read 175 pages – is a goal for one week
Read 25 pages – is a daily habit!
7. Understand your feelings
Go back again and again and figure out why you want to change anything in your life. Are you feeling tired and weak? And is that the reason why you want to exercise more and eat healthy? What is then the feeling you are after? Is it feeling strong / healthy / energized? Associating a feeling with a new habit helps reinforce that habit.
New daily habit: Drink 6 glasses of water
Reasoning: To get more water into my body and because it is healthy
Feeling: Energy!
8. Make a reminder
Creating a new daily habit takes time and while you are creating the habit you need to remind yourself of it. There are thousands of methods for reminders but my preferred method is using a digital reminder that sends me messages at a certain time of the time so I can either tick it off or do what I was supposed to do.Since January 1st 2011 I have worked on a Picture A Day (PAD) project and most days I don’t need a reminder but in case I forget I get a reminder at 10pm for my daily picture. And yesterday I actually moved the reminder to 3pm so that I have more time to create a better picture this year. And yes I have sometimes despite the reminder totally forgotten to take a picture but only  a few times in those three years.
9. Get accountability
Make your New Year’s resolutions public or at least tell your circle of friends and family about them. By announcing your resolutions you again increase the likelihood of success! And even better, get an accountability partner, who checks in on you from time to time. You can also check on yourself by checking once a month or once a quarter how you are doing. Find a group of like-minded individuals who are also on the path to become better versions of themselves and help each other stick to your new habits.
10. Remember to celebrate!
With our lizard brains (the negative thoughts in our head) it is so easy to start to beat ourselves up if we slip on our new daily habits once. On the other hand if we do well for a whole week we totally forget to celebrate. This doesn’t make sense! It is crucial that we recognize that it takes time to form new habits and we should pad ourselves on the back for every week we are successful. And not beat ourselves up when we have missed a day. Let’s be good to ourselves this year!

My New Year’s resolutions

Following my own advice here are my New Year’s resolutions:
Drink 6 glasses of water per day

  • Why? Because I need it for my body. And it might help me reduce my soda consumption.
  • Feeling I want to achieve: ENERGY!
  • This is the first time I commit to this habit.

Go for a daily walk

  • Why? Because my body needs it. And it helps my posture and gives me time to think.
  • Feeling I want to achieve: PAIN-FREE!
  • I made this a habit in 2011 after a doctor’s advice but didn’t keep it up in 2012 and 2013 so going to commit to it now for 2014.

Eat at least one fruit per day

  • Why? Because it is good for me. And my cravings for sweets, mainly liquorice, might be less.
  • Feeling I want to achieve: Happy stomach 😉
  • This has been an on and off habit that I have never really committed too before.

As you can see it is all about health this year. I have a long list of goals for this year too but these are my new daily habits to become a better version of myself.
What are your New Year’s resolutions? Share them below.

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