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Losing weight. Stopping smoking. Eating more fruit and veg. Every year, the date ticks over into a new year and everyone seizes the opportunity to turn over a new leaf by pledging to change their lifestyles. But are new year’s resolutions worth the effort, when so many of those resolutions go down the pan within a couple of weeks, leaving us disheartened and frustrated?
Most of us can identify with that feeling of failure: giving up the gym membership after just a week, or reaching for a cigarette the moment deadlines begin to pile back up after Christmas. You’re in good company. Recent studies showed that 78% of people who make resolutions fail. So why bother?
Even with those statistics, there are plenty of reasons why making resolutions can be a positive and fulfilling experience. Firstly, there’s nothing better than a personal challenge. Whether you aim to get a novel published within the next year or keep your kitchen drawer tidier, stretching yourself to improve really pushes you to identify what you want out of life, and helps take you those precious few steps closer. Resolutions can also be for others – ditching the fags will please your worried family and friends no end, and there are always positive knock-on effects when you improve your own way of life.
Finally, the simplest reason of all to take on a new year’s resolution: it can be fun.
And that’s where the magic of success lies. When you make your resolutions this year, stop and think about how to make it exciting. If you’re trying to eat more healthily, why not team up with your flatmates and make a group resolution? You could take it in turns to cook healthy meals, and getting everyone into the kitchen never fails to be an amusing experience. Heading out to the gym twice a week? Get a gym buddy, and enjoy a good catch-up while you’re there. There are plenty of ways to stop resolutions from being a chore, and maybe you can even start to enjoy them.
Another key to victory is breaking down your resolution into easier steps. Give yourself bite-sized goals, and reward yourself when you get there. Suddenly, your resolution will seem far more achievable.
The third and final important step for keeping your new year’s resolution is straight-forward, but often overlooked: be realistic. If you go out drinking every night of the week, trying to go completely alcohol-free is probably going to end in tears. But if you cut back your drinking to just twice a week, or only drinking on weekends, suddenly the task seems a lot more manageable.
So will you be joining the thousands of struggling resolution makers this January? It’s time to pull out that notepad and start deciding what you want to improve about yourself this year. It will take determination, resilience and a whole lot of willpower, but it may just be a step towards improving the way you live. Good luck!