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By now, statistically, most of you will have given up on your new year’s resolutions. You might be inclined to think that you’ve failed, but surely if we’re all giving up then it’s the process of making these resolutions that’s going wrong, not us? Surely there’s a better way?

It’s estimated that 8% of people actually accomplish their New Year’s resolutions. That leaves the other 92% of us feeling dejected and unsuccessful. The whole process of making resolutions is flawed – it sets us up to fail and just demoralises us instead of inspiring and energising us to make positive changes in our lives. January isn’t, in and of itself, magic. Turning over the page on the calendar doesn’t radically alter your life or your mentality. Many cultures (including our own, historically) celebrate new year in the spring when the new crops are coming, so looking for any transformative power in the middle of the winter makes us a little on the unusual side.

However, the beginning of a new year can be powerful if you approach it in the right way. If it is inspirational and motivational, rather than another stick to beat yourself with. Forget about any resolutions you may have made and may or may not be sticking to, here are some ways to bring about real change that will last.

1. Focus on how you want to feel

Rather than starting with a goal you want to achieve, begin by thinking about how you want to feel this year. What feelings haven’t been working for you? What do you want more of? Sure, it’s great to have a resolution to go to the gym more often, but if you’re concentrating on a thing you have to do regularly, you’re just giving yourself another chore and obligation to succeed or fail at. Instead, if your approach is that you want to feel more healthy, or more active, this year, then you can find lots of different ways of pursuing that feeling. Going to the gym might be one of them, but if you decide a month or so into the year that the gym’s not for you but you really enjoy walking to work, or cycling, or stand-up paddle-boarding, then giving up the gym isn’t failure – it’s all part of the success of moving towards your desired feeling. Give yourself room to experiment with different activities that might ignite that feeling and use the year to discover how to cultivate the feeling you’re looking for.

2. Make your goals achievable

The biggest reason that we give up on our resolutions is that we made them impossible in the first place. If you set a resolution to go for a run every morning before work, but you’re not a morning person and you normally hit snooze eight times before you get up with just enough time to get to work if you do half of your morning routine on the train on the way in, you’re never going to go for that run. Think about what it is you’re ultimately trying to achieve, then break that into manageable steps that will fit with your schedule and your lifestyle. And make it enjoyable. If you hate running, why are you setting that as your resolution? Go back to how it is you want to feel and think about how you can approach that in a way you will actually like.

3. Create a plan

It’s not enough to just make a vague statement of intent – if there is no plan to follow through then you’ll never actually follow through. Once you’ve worked out what it is you want to feel and how you can achieve that, write down the steps you’ll need to take to get there. Make sure the steps are sensible. You can’t go from smoking 20 a day to not smoking at all, and you can’t go from not running at all to running a marathon. How can you cut down or build up, as appropriate, in gradual stages? What opportunities will you look for and what situations will you say no to in order to increase your chances of success?

4. Go easy

Most importantly, be kind to yourself. If you’re trying to make a radical change in your life, it will be hard. Don’t expect to nail it instantly and then berate yourself when you’re not perfect. That’s the surest way to ensure you end up giving up completely. If you skip one run or have one cake on a day you weren’t supposed to, it doesn’t mean it’s all over. It means you needed a break from your goal today, and that’s fine. Get back on track tomorrow by going back to how you want to feel and the steps you’re taking to get there. Nothing of any value was ever easy or instant. Growth takes time. You’re doing great.

If you’re looking to make significant changes in your life, a life coach might be able to help. Our experienced coaches can help you set achievable goals as well as a plan to get you there, and keep you on track! Give us a call on 01273 698687 to find out more.