As 2020 finally comes to a close, it seems like a natural time for reflection. It's been a bit of a crazy year hasn't it? At the start of lockdown there was the toxic positivity memes about learning new skills and starting new businesses and becoming incredibly fit during the "wasted" time in lockdown. However I believe we should look back on the time And be grateful we survived. It's easy to bash yourself up and think that you have not done enough during this "opportunity". However in order to survive these strange times we have been adaptable and learn new technology and find new ways of working, we have worried for our families and worried about frontline workers, I know at times I felt guilty, moaning about staying at home, when people have been working in hospitals in PPE and really challenging situations.
New Year's Eve will be different this year, I am in tier 4. So will be staying at home and watching TV instead of going to the usual New Year's Eve party that involves the After Eight challenge. I've never lost one yet. I didn't get a body like this letting chocolate miss my mouth. It's frustrating but it's a small price to pay to keep people safe.
I'm not a fan of New Year's Resolutions at the best of times, and this year it feels like it would be a really harsh thing to expect lots of changes to be made. Self-help Gurus Tell us that we need to write our goals down due to the "Yale Goal Setting Study" However what they fail to mention is that this study is actually an urban myth there is no evidence that the magic study where students who wrote their goals down earned more than the combined income of the students who didn't. The same gurus will also tell us that it takes three weeks to make a change. This is also based on poor evidence. The reality is is that change is more complex. This does not mean that we cannot make changes in our lives, but we need to make realistic changes, that actually mean something to us, rather than feeling pressured to change our lives due to a date. New Year's Day is also known As Friday, just another day.
If you do want to make some changes, here are some tips that will help:
Make the goal something that is actually meaningful to you. Feeling pressured to be a particular dress size due to Instagram isn't really motivating enough but wanting to make positive health changes is a better motivator. It could be that you would like to be able to walk further so that you can enjoy days out with your family. This will be more motivating to get fit rather than just pure aesthetics.
Plan how you are going to make the change, and think about how you are going to get back on track if you do not keep the behaviour going. For example if you've decided that you want to eat five fruit and veg a day, but then have a day that you do not make your target, that does not mean that you don't have to do it for the rest of the week or that your goal is 'broken', it just means that one day it didn't work out and you can start afresh a new day, all or nothing thinking Is the enemy of lasting change.
Plan how you are going to cope with your new behaviour in difficult circumstances, for example if you want to give up smoking, but you find if you go out with friends, ( remember when we did that?) Think about how you plan to manage that situation. It could be that you talk to your friends before and tell them that you have given up smoking, so don't offer any cigarettes. It may be that you enjoy cigarette breaks at work, find another way to have a break that does not involve cigarettes, for example make a coffee or have a chat with a colleague.
Make a decision about if you want to share your goals with people, some people feel more accountable if other people know, however other people find the pressure of other people knowing means they give up sooner than they would have if they had kept the goal to themselves. Typically more introverted people like to keep their goals to themselves. Also be aware of sharing your goals with friends, family or colleagues who may sabotage your progress. This isn't always done With malice but usually a reflection of where they are in life, sometimes it is easier to keep things to yourself until you feel like you have formed a new habit.
Keep track of your progress if you find that helps and think of ways of reflecting and rewarding yourself for your progress. Try not to punish yourself if you make a slip it is a normal part of behaviour change, learn from it and move on.
Break your goal down into smaller steps, for example if you want to get healthier it could be that you decide that you are going to have a healthy breakfast, once you're in the habit of doing this you could then work on fitting a walk in every day, or drinking more water, you don't have to make all the changes at once. Most changes that are meaningful are the combination of lots of little steps. If you decide that you want to start a business this year. There will be lots of little and some big steps to take so plan out the little steps such as finding the legal obligations of running a business and setting that up, working out the different steps of a business plan. Designing stationery, setting up social media, working out how to Get customers, put in processes in place. All these things are part of setting up a business but it is more manageable to think of separate steps rather than the whole.
Try to link your new behaviour to something that you do routinely, for example if you have your dinner break at work at the some time, you could have a walk after you have eaten, you could go for a walk. By linking a new behaviour to an established behaviour you are more likely to succeed.
If you have a copy of the book Miracle Morning..... Throw it away, don't even give it to the charity shop. Trust me on this it's not helping anyone. It's competitive wellness and it's toxic. If you are lucky enough not to have heard of this book, it's the morning routines of successful people. This has led to gurus telling you that you need to get up at a particular time, exercise, meditate, be grateful for things, build an orphanage, made some new business contacts, read something new, and eaten some sort of very healthy breakfast that probably taste awful. All before 9 o'clock.
It is important to remember that we have lived through a pandemic. Pandemics tend to happen every hundred years so this is a once-in-a-lifetime event. We got through it and are continuing to cope with scary situations and endless changes, Think about all that you have achieved over the last year. You're probably amazing as you are and don't need to set new goals just because it's Friday. If you do want to make changes to your life you can do this any day of the year.