New Year’s resolutions: 5 expert tips to keep your 2020 goals

Laura Hampson
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A New Year means a new start – at least that’s the mind set behind making New Year’s resolutions come January 1.

Making a New Year’s resolution is a tradition that dates back to the Bronze Age where ancient Babylonians would make promises to their gods at the beginning of each year.

Now, we tend to make internal promises as the most common New Year’s resolutions revolve around self-care like getting more sleep, eating better and exercising more.

Yet, by February our New Year motivation teeters off and we’re left feeling flat and guilty that we couldn’t stick to our resolution, vowing that next year will be the year we make the change.

So what’s the secret to keeping your New Year’s resolution? "Forming a habit," advises life coach Liz Goodchild.

“Ask yourself this: If I find just 10 minutes extra a day, what can I learn or create or tidy or start reading or writing? How can I move my body or sit still or do something I want to do but never seem to get round to?,” Goodchild queries. “A lot can happen in just 10 minutes a day.”

Goodchild’s top tips for keeping your New Years resolutions are:

1. Start small

Goodchild says: “If your New Year’s resolution is to improve your fitness, setting the goal of starting with just five push ups a day, will feel way less overwhelming than 100 push ups per day.”

2. Get ‘comfortably uncomfortable’ doing things that don’t take huge amounts of effort or time or resources

“If you want to finish writing the book you’ve been trying to write for 10 years, start by writing for 10 minutes per day – which will probably amount to a chapter per month. This can suddenly feel like a pretty easy and manageable goal to work towards.”

3. Change your daily habits

“As a coach, I don’t really focus on how many days a habit will take to form but focusing more on becoming the type of person who always sticks to your new habit – no matter how small or insignificant it seems.

“We all have 10 minutes a day to devote to something worthwhile. We don’t need to put aside hours a day to learn something new, or exercise or write or whatever it is you really want to do.”

4. Make your resolutions more achievable

“Make your New Year’s resolutions so ridiculously easy that you can’t not do them. Stanford professor BJ Fogg suggests that people who want to start flossing their teeth every day begin by flossing only one tooth. Just one.”

5. Don’t force change

“We might research recipes online and make a plan and create a shopping list full of nutritious food and 'pin' lots of ideas on Pinterest, but when it comes down to it, just as we’re on the brink of starting, we waiver. This is because our motivation has already run out.

“We wait, for the perfect moment to come along, for January 1 or next Monday or when it feels right. But the truth is, that moment will never arrive. This is because we usually try to make changes in the wrong way. We visualise ourselves as being this meditating, green smoothie drinking, daily yoga practicing wonder woman and so we start drinking green smoothies daily, practicing yoga every day for an hour and sitting down and meditating each morning for 30 minutes. And guess what? We fall on our face. After a few days, we’re back to the sofa and eating pizza, because our motivation has run out.”

When it comes down to it, Goodchild isn’t a fan of New Year’s resolutions: “I’m not a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions. They just don’t work.

“I spend a lot of time working with people, as well as studying and researching human behaviour change and how our minds work, and what I’ve learnt is that forced change tends to have pretty low success rates.”

Goodchild explains that while we can’t expect change to happen overnight, forming a habit is the best way to create change – and the best way to stick to a resolution, whether it be for the New Year or for tomorrow.

For more information on forming habits and life coaching, visit lizgoodchild.co.uk

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