You have a WHOLE YEAR to achieve your resolution

The biggest criticism of New Year's resolutions is that they last for a short time, and then people give up. That's down to a huge misunderstanding about New Year's resolutions. They're called "New YEAR resolutions" for a reason. There's no magic. No one reinvents themselves just because January 1st has come around. You have twelve whole months to succeed in your New Year's resolution, so there shouldn't be any pressure to start it on New Year's Day. In fact, one study by shopping channel QVC shows that 38 per cent of people actually plan to start their resolution from Monday 11th January. 

Of course, resolution makers will lapse. By the end of the first week of January, just 41 per cent of people admit to have already broken their new year’s resolution. New Year resolutions are hard work. By January 22nd, 88% of people will have given up on their New Year’s promise to themselves, according to health app Lifesum. Their in-house nutritionist, Frida Harju, believes this is because people set themselves an unmanageable challenge. Setting effective New Year’s resolutions paves the way for a good year ahead. In early January people have an optimism and ambition that simply wasn’t there in December. Small changes to daily routines, healthy modifications to favourite recipes and renewed exercise habits can lead to big changes in terms of physical and mental wellbeing.

Staying focused isn’t always easy, though, so Harju has offered top tips for maintaining momentum and reaching health and fitness goals:

Surround yourself with positive company: It may seem obvious, but having people around you to encourage and support you through your exercise and diet is the best advice. Recruit a reliable exercise partner. That way, you can gently compete and push each other forward, and you can remind each other of what you have achieved if one of you wants to give up.

Subscribe to an aspirational blog: Although you may have already signed up to a gym and committed to a diet, if you subscribe to a food blog or health newsletter, update alerts can serve as a gentle reminder to stay on track and might even inspire you to try something new with healthy recipes and exercise regimes.

Set realistic goals: It is very important that the goals you have set are achievable and manageable. If you are impatient and expect instant results, it is likely you will not be satisfied and are more likely to give up altogether. Do not be hard on yourself if you have an off day, and ensure that you praise yourself for small achievements. Most importantly, make sure that you start each day afresh, don’t hold on to guilt if you slipped up the night before.

Work out what are you trying to achieve:  Most people want to improve their image or lifestyle to gain something more. Whether it is to meet the right person, or to land your perfect job, it is important that you are actually directing your resolutions towards your happiness. Whether your diet and fitness regime is primarily aimed at improving your sense of self and confidence, or your health, remind yourself once in a while what you are doing it for.

Reward yourself: If you are seeing results and working hard at improving your overall lifestyle, you should reward yourself, even if it’s just once a month. Make sure you give yourself a treat every now and again, and are not depriving yourself entirely of the things that you enjoy. Everything is fine - in moderation - so if you have worked hard all week, reward yourself with a treat. If you reach a specific goal, it is important that you reward your inner-self, so be sure to buy those shoes you wanted or get that hair-cut you were too nervous to try before.

Make smart choices: Instead of making massive changes to your diet and denying yourself all the things you love, try committing to a small change and making it into a habit. For example, instead of adding sugar, use honey or agave nectar. Instead of having potato fries, show off your culinary skills and make some sweet-potato fries.

Climb one hill at a time: Often, people put too much on their plate. They want to lose weight, quit smoking and learn a new skill all at once. By putting all your energy into one aim, you are more likely to achieve it. If you give split-attention to all of your goals, you are unlikely to stay focussed and your willpower will falter.

Set behavioural goals, not concrete ones: If you set a resolution of ‘losing 10 pounds’, it is too specific and maybe even too great an amount of weight to want to loose. It is much easier to set behavioural goals that will help you work towards your main aim, for example, going to the gym 3 times a week and walking to work every day. If you can keep to your small changes, you are more likely to see the big results.

Keep a reminder: There might be something that you know will trigger will power, whether it is a song that reminds you to be happy, a picture of your former self, or even a photograph of something you want to achieve. It is a great method if you are losing hope or tempted to give into your cravings. Just take two seconds out to look at the picture or listen to the song and remind yourself of these positive feelings and of your determination.

You don't have to start your New Year's resolution on the 1st of January. It's impossible to achieve most New Year's Resolutions in the first few days of the year. Resolutions have to be pursued for the whole year. Every resolution maker should keep in mind that they have twelve months to achieve their goal. More importantly, little lapses should not be an opportunity to give up pursuing the end goal.  Just because you have lapsed once does not mean you have failed. New Year's resolutions are not just about changing for a year, but changing your life. If you get to December 31st and you haven't achieved your resolution by then, just reflect on what happened, and why it didn't work for you. Then work on a strategy for the next year. Resolutions are about keeping motivated for the long term. 

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