New Year’s Resolutions
January 11, 2021 | by Charlotte Linham
Many of us will have started 2021 with something (or maybe even a whole list of things) we wanted to accomplish, only to have the resolutions suddenly seem like a mammoth task when we were put into lockdown less than a week in. We’ve all seen first-hand the effect that lockdown can have on our mental health and if we add to that an ever-growing list of to-dos, it’s no wonder we can feel a bit demotivated.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the biggest fan of setting New Year’s resolutions. Why? Because I think we tend to go a bit overboard, making them unachievable and in turn just setting ourselves up to break them – but the more I thought about it, if there was ever a year to set a goal, it’s this one (even if we’re a bit late starting).
Research suggests habits begin to be formed after about 18 days of doing something – so, perhaps a 21-day lockdown presents us with a perfect opportunity to begin some positive change. It takes approximately 66 days for a habit to become an automatic behaviour, so we’ll already be almost a third of the way in! And plus, setting and achieving goals can boost our self-esteem and improve our mood, which will be really helpful to us all over the next few weeks.
So, how do we set ourselves up for success?
Start with picking something you actually want to do. Lots of us set random resolutions – like doing dry January, getting fitter, changing how we eat, or learning something new – without ever having a reason to do those things. Think about things you want in the future – what can you do that will help you get there? Writing down your reasons for doing things can help kickstart your motivation, or make you realise that you’re not choosing something for the right reasons, so you can alter the resolution to something you’re more passionate about.
Next, break it down. If your resolution is more of a long-term goal, think short term – what steps can you take over the next few weeks to help you get there? Be specific about these small steps – for example, rather than ‘I’m going to exercise for 3 days this week’, set out exactly what kinds of exercise you’ll do and at what times. If it’s more of forming a habit, like making your bed, decide exactly what time you’re going to do this – remember what I said about habits? This is where it starts.
Starting small is key. Rather than setting up goals that are going to need hours and hours of time devoted to them, try beginning with setting aside 5 or 10 minutes a day. If you’re reading this, odds are you have 5 minutes in your day that you can do something in – whether than be a quick walk around the block, making yourself a hot drink, getting dressed, making a snack, reading a page of a book or even putting on a face mask – whatever helps you to reach your end goal.
Don’t punish yourself. It’s okay to have days where you really aren’t feeling it. Simply put, try again tomorrow. Forgetting something once really isn’t the end of the world. You can hold yourself accountable by making a more solid plan that will help you achieve it but berating yourself for not doing it won’t make you want to do things any more than you did before. Rewarding yourself can be really helpful – honestly, stickers on every day of the week on a calendar can work wonders. You can choose your own rewards, so whatever works for you – try to keep them proportionate to your goals, so smaller ones daily, slightly bigger ones every week, and then something you’re really excited about at the end.
Finally, don’t be afraid to share it with someone. Research shows that sharing your goal can actually help you achieve it. In the hopes that it might keep me accountable, I’m going to share my lockdown resolution with you all – I’m going to go for a walk once every day. It might not seem like much to many of you, but as someone who really, really hates the cold it’s a pretty big deal. Feel free to share yours with me!