It’s that time of year again when many set resolutions. We look at ways to keep these achievable and positive.

Last year was a challenge for many of us. At the start of 2020, many assumed Brexit would have the biggest impact on the UK but COVID-19 had other ideas. With so many twists and turns, restrictions, guidelines and unknowns, 2020 was a rollercoaster. As we head into 2021 it’s important to remain realistic when it comes to setting expectations.

Tradition means many of us will consider setting ‘New Year Resolutions’, encouraging life changes for the better and two of the most popular ones usually are:

  • Travel more
  • See more of friends and family

With the global pandemic far from over, the likelihood of reduced travel and social distancing from the majority of your friends and family is also a distant prospect. Whilst frustrating, several popular resolutions remain achievable even if we encounter further lockdown scenarios.

  • Adopt healthier life choices i.e. a better diet and more exercise
  • Learn a new skill or hobby
  • Read more

Keep Realistic & Achievable

With all that said, it’s important to remain realistic and not set yourself up to ‘fail’.

Consider your own personal circumstance and what this year has taught you. This will allow you to make positive changes, which might be small at first, but could have a huge impact on your mental wellbeing over the year. Here are five key tactics you might want to try when setting your goals:

Timing

First of all maybe take out the “new year” aspect!  January can be a difficult month for everyone.  The weather’s bad, you’re perhaps still getting over the spending and overindulging of Christmas. It’s all a bit overwhelming – so why make it more challenging for yourself?  Take the month to reflect, to plan and then start your new resolutions in February.  You could even set your starting date on 14th February, Valentine’s Day, as a sign of love for yourself!

Value

Your resolutions need to be worth setting if they are to be worth doing.  Test them out before you commit. Think about each goal – why do you want to do it? What do you hope to get out of it?  Is there another action or resolution that would give you the same outcome but which would be either easier or more pleasant to take on? 

Pace

It might help to have one resolution at a time: you could set one for the first quarter of the year, then review how you’ve done and either make some adjustments or start working towards a new goal. You could have one for Q1, then Q2 etc. 

Some resolutions can work in an “eased in” approach.  For example, say you want to eat more healthy food.  Instead of a full-on “I will only eat healthy food” resolution you could set a goal to try one new, healthy meal once a week.  If you like it then it can be incorporated into your usual meal planning – if you don’t like it, at least you know, and you can try another next week!  

This leads on nicely to -

Do Rather than Don’t

Focus on the positive, not the negative. So in the above example you emphasise the new healthy foods you will try out, rather than the old, less-healthy ones you are giving up.  Or, if your aim is to “Stop being a couch potato” maybe resolve to “find an exercise I enjoy and do it once a week” or “meet up with a friend for a walk and a chat (at 2 safe metres for now).”

Could – not Should

You may have noticed a lot of “maybe” or “could” or “might” in this article – and that’s deliberate. The language you use with yourself is very important.  If you set a “must do” resolution then the first time you fail to do it you risk feeling like all is lost and you just give up on the resolution altogether. However, if you’ve said to yourself, “I will try to” or “I will find ways to” – there’s always next time!   

Perhaps the healthiest aspects of New Year resolutions are the thought and reflection that goes into making them and the efforts you make - and new things you learn – along the way. So, perhaps, try not to focus just on the end result but on the journey there. 

Finally, and most importantly, be kind to yourself. Set a goal that motivates you, and try not to make challenges too big or too fast. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s to appreciate the small things in life. Therefore, setting a goal to give up chocolate might be just one step too far!

Whatever journeys you make, we wish you all the very best!