Successful New Year’s Resolutions – Hypnotherapy in Ely and Newmarket
Do you set New Year’s resolutions? The start of a new year somehow often feels like the right time for setting fresh goals. As one year ends, the new one, filled with the possibility and opportunity of the forthcoming twelve months, seems like a good time to start.
As well as that, if you have some time off over the festive period, then you may have more time to think and plan about what you’d like to achieve or change in your life. And if you have been overindulging through the Christmas and New Year period, then making some health changes may be top of your New Year’s resolutions list. In practice, most resolutions involve making health changes, such as quitting smoking, losing weight, cutting down drinking or changing eating habits.
Yet all too often your good intentions for improving your health fall by the wayside. You find yourself back where you started with your usual eating, drinking and exercise habits and routines, and your usual wishes to be thinner, healthier and happier.
So what can you do to improve your likelihood of not only making a New Year’s resolution, but also sticking to it and consistently changing how you do things for the better?
Goals For The Year Ahead
One of the first things you need to have in place to support making positive changes in your life is to find, and be clear, about what you want to do and why you want to do it. You need to have in your mind what you want to achieve and the positive benefits this will bring to you and into your life.
If you lack this sense of purpose then you’ll find your focus and motivation quickly start to wane. Without being clear on what the successful attainment of your resolution and goal will bring to you, it becomes just a wish or something you should probably get around to doing. It lacks the positive drive and persistence that comes from knowing your reasons and motivations. Write down what you want to achieve, why you want to achieve, and what it will do for you, get you or bring you from sticking to it and achieving it.
Next, make your New Year’s resolution something that is big, bold, positive and exciting for you. Let it be something that gets you pumped when you imagine having achieved it. Maybe you want to be fitter, or to wear those smaller clothes. Maybe you want to look good and feel good. Maybe you want to be healthier so you are around for your family and kids in the future.
Set a big, motivating and inspiring goal. Yet then, break it down into smaller steps. So many people, while relaxing with some time off over the festive period, decide to revolutionise their life from 1st January. They tell themselves they will change all of their eating habits, never drink again, quit smoking forever, never eat sugar again or exercise for two hours a day, every day.
Now all of these things may be great, but once you head into January, with the dark, cold weather, and when your usual routines and demands and daily challenges kick back in, you may well find that you lack the time, energy and focus to stick to your life revolution. What seemed entirely possible while you were enjoying yourself over Christmas, becomes overwhelming when the constrictions and pressures of normal daily life restart. Or maybe you get yourself so overwhelmed with your resolution and what you need to do that you put off doing anything because you can’t decide where to start or what to do instead of what you were doing before. Or maybe you get started but a challenge comes up, you have to work late or go away, the kids get ill or you’re in a situation where the only option is to break your good intentions.
So rather than seeking a big bang revolution of your life, aim to work out the first step you need to take and get that working for you. If you want to eat healthier then review what you’ve usually been eating and change one thing. You could swap an unhealthy snack to something healthier, you could ditch chocolate during the week, you could swap your sugary breakfast for something healthier each day. you could cook a meal from scratch each week, you could walk ten minutes a day or do two classes a week. Whatever you can implement and sustain around the other demands of your life is successful progress. Once that is up and running and routine and habit, add the next step in.
As you work on getting each step in turn in place you make consistent and sustainable progress. It becomes how you do things and your new, healthier set of habits.
And if your motivation starts to lag, really ask yourself where you will end up in a years time. Imagine it’s New Year’s eve next year and you didn’t stick at your resolution. You carried on doing things in the same old way you’d always done and getting the same old results. Consider how you’ll feel if another year has passed and you’ve made no progress. Will you be frustrated, disappointed, upset or something else? Are you really going to let another year pass and you’re still smoking, eating unhealthily, overweight or excessively drinking? What will you do then, make the same old resolutions and promises to yourself and then suffer the same old failure?
Or consider, for a moment, how will you feel if you started making changes and, this time next year you’ve achieved the things you set out to, or at least made substantial positive progress. Simply because you took action, you made changes and you stuck with it, start to consider how good you’ll feel in a year’s time when you’re healthier and happier in yourself.
Then decide what you’re going to do, plan it and take the first step along the way.
Successful New Year’s Resolutions
As well as the steps above, we also have some research that has investigated the resolutions people make and whether it is possible to increase the likelihood of a resolution’s success. After all, if you are setting goals and putting time and effort into them, then you want to be doing all you can to have successful New Year’s resolutions.
Oscarsson, Carlbring, Andersson and Rozental (2020) conducted a large-scale experiment on New Year’s resolutions. They found that the most popular resolutions regarded physical health, weight loss, and eating habits. They found that at a one year follow up, over half of the participants considered themselves successful in sustaining their resolution.
Importantly, if you are planning on setting yourself some resolutions this year, people with approach orientated goals were significantly more successful in sustaining their New Year’s resolutions compared to those with avoidance oriented goals. That is, to increase your likelihood of success, take action towards what you do what, rather than seeking to avoid what you don’t want.
There are also a few other things that the research suggests may help with the likelihood of achieving your goals. Naturally being motivated towards your goals is important and having some support in place to help you certainly seemed to help with success. It is also important to make sure that the goals you set are specific, so that you know what you need to do to make progress, and this can include when you aren’t going to do something (so you plan for those situations when it may be difficult/impractical to meet your goal rather than considering these situations to be failures).
As they conclude, “this study reveals that New Year’s resolutions can have lasting effects, even at a one-year follow-up.”
So that, rather than just wishful thinking or woolly goals, you can take all of these points and make sure you have motivating, positive resolutions that will bring positive changes to your health and well-being and that will help you to increase your chances of success. Whilst it’s generally considered that most resolutions fail within the first month, by applying these steps, you can be one of those people who take actions, makes changes for the better and so feels a sense of accomplishment and pride when this time next year you are considering how far you’ve come and what other good stuff lies ahead for you.
To your health and happiness,
Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket
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Reference: Oscarsson, M., Carlbring, P., Andersson, G. and Rozental, A., 2020. A large-scale experiment on New Year’s resolutions: Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals. PLoS One, 15(12), p.e0234097.