As 2019 draws to a close, the big 2020 looms ever closer, which means we’re teetering on the cusp of a brand New Decade. With every New Year comes a hoard of New Year’s resolutions, with the overwhelming majority of them centering around healthier living. Making some well-intended resolutions for yourself is one thing, but actually sticking to them is quite another. Read on to find out how you can ensure 2020 is the year you change your lifestyle for the better, FOR GOOD. Read on for, 2020: New Year’s Resolutions & 5 Keys to Keeping Them!
Whether you want to improve your diet, exercise more, or increase your mindfulness, there’s no doubt that January is a month full of vows to kick-start a new and improved lifestyle. In fact, health-based ambitions make up almost a third of New Year’s resolutions according to one US study. The number of internet searches for gyms and gym memberships increases by 40% between December and January every year according to Gold’s Gym, but despite the good intentions, Focus Training estimates that around 80% of fitness-based New Year’s resolutions fail by late-January.
Why does this keep happening, even to the best of us, year after year? It all boils down to motivation. Often the thought of your ideal lifestyle, weight or body just isn’t enough to maintain motivation. Instead, we need to ensure that the things we’re doing to achieve our New Year’s resolutions are enjoyable, attainable, and easy to track.
1. New Year’s Resolutions 101: Be realistic
Don’t make unattainable goals for yourself. Be realistic and be specific – if your goal is weight loss, exactly how much weight do you want to lose, and by when? If you want to increase your stamina, how long do you want to be able to run, (cycle, jog, row etc) for, and when do you want to achieve that by? Ideally, your specific goals will be progressive. Rather than just giving yourself one end goal, add in some intermediate goal milestones to meet along the way.
For example, “I want to be able to sustain a run for thirty minutes by March 1st”, and “I want to be able to run a 5k in under half an hour by May 1st”. By setting yourself specific, attainable goals, you will feel like you’re consistently achieving things, which will help to keep you motivated.
2. Start small and build on it
The activities and challenges you set yourself should follow the same pattern as your goals – they should be progressive. Rather than trying to achieve one end goal with a single abrupt and inflexible regime, start small and build it up in regular intervals.
For example, you could kick off January by going on two twenty-minute runs a week, and increase it in February to three thirty-minute runs a week, and so on, increasing your runs in whichever way works best for you. Or if your New Year’s resolution is diet-based, for example if you were trying to go vegan, start by limiting your non-vegan meals to three days a week for a month, then go down to two for the following month, and so on. This way, you will always be working upwards, always striving towards something greater, so that maintaining your initial target will start to seem like it’s happening on autopilot.
3. Do something you enjoy
Don’t necessarily run out and sign up for an expensive gym membership to try and increase the amount of exercise you do – if sweating it out at the gym has never appealed to you before, having a membership is unlikely to be enough to motivate you now. In fact, if it becomes a chore for you, you might even start to dread it, and you simply won’t be able to keep it up. Plus, your wallet won’t thank you for having a membership that’s not being used. According to one estimate by Focus Training, Brits are wasting a whopping £558 million a year on unused gym memberships.
If the idea of the gym doesn’t motivate you, instead look out for some clubs or sports teams that you might enjoy being a part of. Being part of a group or team is a great way to keep up your resolution, because your motivation will become two-fold: sure, you want to improve your fitness, but you also want to go because it’s fun, it’s social and more likely than not, you’ve made friends there.
This brings us on to the next tip; if you know someone has similar goals to you, being in it together means you’ll be more likely to follow through with your goals because there’s two people to not let down.
If your aim is to be more mindful, for example, and you know a friend from work has the same goal, why not ask them if they’d like to take a few minutes to meditate with you during your lunch breaks? Or, if your goal is fitness- related, find a running partner, a reliable gym buddy, or, if all else fails, a personal trainer. Having another person there to spur you on will make a world of difference.
5. Keep a diary
Your progress should be easy to track, because that way you’re being mindful about your development. Keep a diary in which you write down everything related to your New Year’s resolution, such as what you’re eating, exercises performed, calories burned, or moments of mindfulness. (The video below is from the start of 2019, but the keys are of course, still very relevant – principles are principles afterall!)
Make sure you’re specific about timings and quantities. Not only will this make it easier to track what you’re actually accomplishing, helping to motivate you further, but it also helps hold you to account for your own health goals – if you’re writing it all down, then you’ve got physical evidence staring you in the face, verifying what you have achieved and what you still need to do.