Resolutions starting to slip already? Here's how to get over New Year Syndrome

Make 2017 the year you actually stick to your New Year's Resolutions [Photo: Getty]
Make 2017 the year you actually stick to your New Year’s Resolutions [Photo: Getty]

It’s a shiny new year and as the bells of Big Ben chimed at midnight half of us vowed that this year would be different. 2017 would be the year we’d be better versions of ourselves. Sadly though research suggests that almost a quarter of us who made New Year Resolutions lose steam around a week later. Er, right about now then.

You know the drill, those set-in-stone vows to be healthier, smarter, more focused at work, start to feel more like casual might-dos while the promise to get to the gym, research that new career, take up a new hobby quickly start slipping down the to-do list.

“Part of the problem is that we often set unrealistic goals under the false assumption that we can just become a completely different person in the New Year,” explains Olga Levancuka, life coach and author of ‘How To Be Selfish’. “The hype of making a drastic change to better ourselves can actually backfire as we set such high targets for ourselves that when they start to seem a little challenging, disillusion sets in and by February many of us have completely given up on our resolutions.”

So how do we stop 2017 feeling so, well, 2016? Fail Friday, the third Friday of the month, when our willpower is most likely to be broken, is mere days away, so we’ve enlisted the help of the experts to get you over the temptation to quit and ensure this is the year we actually don’t crack under the resolution pressure.

Set realistic goals

Baby steps, people, baby steps. “You need to know your own strengths and abilities, as well as the limit to which you are willing to be pushed,” explains David Brudö, CEO and Co-Founder at personal development and mental wellbeing app Remente. “For example, if you want to start running, but never did so before, your first goal shouldn’t be running a marathon within a month. Instead, aim to run a set distance, such as 5K and increase your speed – once you’re comfortable, gradually increase the distance. Setting a realistic goal will make it easier for you to achieve it, as resolutions which are too far outside of our possibilities cause us to become discouraged and give up.”

Set realistic goals [Photo: Getty]
Set realistic goals [Photo: Getty]

Try to enjoy the ride

Not just the end result. “Make your resolution achievable, enjoyable, and measurable,” explains Sophia Davis, life coach for Bach Original Flower Remedies. “This way, you can mark your progress, break it down into steps, and enjoy every moment of the journey to success. It’s more likely that if you are enjoying it, you will continue.”

Use positive language

“Rather than associating the New Year with resolutions or changes you need to make to stop being unfit, lonely or *insert other negative adjective here*, consider your resolutions as a reflection on things you wish to work on throughout the year to achieve a better quality of life and be happier,” advises Olga Levancuka, life coach and author of ‘How To Be Selfish’. “Adopting positive language and a positive mindset can have a big impact on your self-esteem which will help you to keep pushing through. Quit dwelling on what you have not accomplished so far and focus on how you will improve instead.”

Find your inner motivation

“Once you decided on your resolution and how you will measure your achievements, find a source of motivation,” advises David Brudö. “This can be internal – if, for example, you feel passionate doing something that will bring you closer to your goal. Finding an inner source of motivation will bring with it a state of ‘flow’ in which you will concentrate on your goal and not get distracted with any obstacles. Alternatively, you could turn to external motivation, which is a reward or feeling of appreciation that you receive from others for achieving your goals.”

Finding a resolution buddy can help you stick to your goals [Photo: Getty]
Finding a resolution buddy can help you stick to your goals [Photo: Getty]

Find a resolution buddy

Not only will it make it heaps more fun, but you’re more likely to stick to your goals if you’ve got someone to answer to. “Get friends involved, or find other people who share your goals, and will hold you accountable to action,” says Sophia Davis. “If you want to get fit for example, doing it with other people makes it more fun, and less likely you will give up.”

Make sure your target is attractive

There’s no point striving to achieve something you’re actually not that bothered about. “Make sure that your resolution is an attractive one and that you feel like you’ve achieved something at the end,” advises David Brudö. “Adding a sense of fun, urgency or competition to your resolution will make you more invested in succeeding and the sense of reward will help you persevere. Additionally, if you feel like you are having fun and enjoying yourself, overcoming any difficulties along the way won’t seem so hard.”

Question your resolution

And ask yourself if it’s really what you want. “Often we set goals on the basis of what we think we should be doing,” explains Sophia Davis. “This is never a good enough reason for us to continue in the long run. It has to be something you really deeply want. If it is, and you know the reasons why, just have some trust in yourself and know that you are destined to succeed.”

Stick it in the diary

It’s important to set aside time to achieve your resolutions. “Think of it as an ongoing project and schedule blocks of time, which you can dedicate to progressing and tracking progress made,” advises David Brudö. “If you want to budget better, schedule a weekly budget review on a Sunday. If you want to get fitter, sign up to classes and add them to your calendar. Scheduling these events will make it easier for you to stick to your plan and to get back on track, in case you slip up.”

Give yourself a break

Don’t get stuck in the stress cycle. “Remember that changes happen progressively, so take off the pressure,” says Sophia Davis. “Pressure leads to stress. Stress leads to a high risk of giving up or creating resentment of your goals. Just take life day by day. A bad day isn’t a defeat. Just pick up again the next day. It’s more likely you will be able to sustain the changes and achieve what you set out to if you are kind to yourself through it.”

Be specific

“Once you’ve decided on a realistic resolution, think about how you will measure your success,” says David Brudö. “Provide yourself with tangible and measurable aims. Avoid using terms like ‘be more…’ as these are too vague, instead try to use words like ‘increase’ and ‘develop’. For example, if you would like to be more sociable, set yourself a goal of ‘seeing friends once a week’ or ‘getting better at asking strangers for directions’. Because the phrasing is more specific and you’ve set yourself smaller targets within the overall resolution, you will be much more likely to achieve your goal.”

Resolutions already starting to slip down the to-do list? [Photo: Getty]
Resolutions already starting to slip down the to-do list? [Photo: Getty]

Try the pain/pleasure method

Pain or pleasure associations can help keep you motivated. “Every time you feel like giving up on your goal, imagine the disappointment you will feel at failing,” suggests David Brudö. “Alternatively, if you have a concrete goal at the end, like working towards a promotion for example, imagine how happy you will be once you receive it. Every time you lose steam or feel that you are about to give up, think of one of these associations and it should keep you going.”

Make adjustments

Don’t be afraid to re-frame things when things don’t run smoothly. “Creating a plan of action will bring you one step closer to achieving your goal but unfortunately (or fortunately) life doesn’t always go according to plan,” says Olga Levancuka. “You need to remain flexible to deal with any unexpected setbacks such as an injury that may keep you away from exercising or a sudden change at work. Adjusting your plans will allow you to keep working towards your goal instead of giving up.”

What are your best tips for sticking to your New Year resolutions? Share them with us @YahooStyleUK

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