How to keep your New Years’ Resolutions going

We’re now mid-way through January and the resolutions optimism you had on 1 January has completely disappeared.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll start talking yourself out of your New Year’s resolutions altogether.

Do I really need to learn a new language? Where would I even speak it? I don’t want to drink too much water. What if I drown?

I’m not going to let that be me this year and I don’t think you should let it be you. You created these resolutions for good reason and there are ways to stick to them without having to alter your everyday life.

Caroline Allen New Years' ResolutionsThe ‘Habit’ app

I’m not one for apps. In fact, I have a shockingly small amount of apps on my phone. Habit is great, though and I’d urge you to give it a go.

It’s very simple. You write in your resolutions (or just general habits you’d like to stick to) and then tick it every day you complete it.

If you want it to, it can send you reminders during the day to make sure you stick to your resolutions.

Between a third and a half of our behaviours are habitual and it’s said that it’ll take us 66 days to get into a routine, so don’t sweat it if you’re still struggling 17 days in, but do keep going.

Plan ahead

I’m a big fan of planning ahead and at this point, it’s something that comes to me habitually.

At the end of every working day, I write down my priorities for the day ahead. Don’t overdo it. Only write down essential tasks and don’t just write down every single thing that is floating around in your head; there’s a different place for that.

Here’s a 10-minute after-work planning routine to get into: 

  1. Check your calendar for any meetings or appointments for the following day & schedule them into your planner. (My planner is from The Completist and I absolutely love it, specifically because it doesn’t have dates on it so you can start it at any time of year).
  2. Write your top three essential tasks for tomorrow in the notes section of the day.
  3. Use the Notes app on your phone to write a continual to-do list/brain dump of all things you know you have to do. Things like pay plumber, sort out bathroom light, email back Sharon. Then you can just check in on your list at the end of every day to make sure you’re on track.

Sunday planning routine: 

Your Sunday planning routine should be slightly different because it’s a look ahead at the whole week.

This is important because it gives you a chance to look at what days you have free and what days are looking busy for you and then plan accordingly.

On a Sunday I also schedule my exercise for the whole week. I will book classes, or block out time to go to the gym and then stick to it as if it was a meeting.

One caveat to that is that if I wake up and really don’t want to go to the gym then I don’t go. If it’s sheer laziness then I’ll force myself but if I’ve had a bad night sleep or I’m not feeling very well then I go easy on myself and don’t ruminate over it for the whole day.

Implement intentions

I like this one and it’s backed by science.

I don’t use it myself because my goals (you can see them here if you fancy it) don’t really lend themselves to this, but if you’re trying to cut down on sugar, or another diet-related goal then I think this works.

It’s simple: If you feel like doing x then do y.

If you feel like eating a bar of chocolate, drink a glass of water. If you feel like sacking off the gym and getting back in bed, go and make yourself a cup of tea.

It’s one of the best ways to keep to your goals, according to a study of 94 other goals.

Set deadlines

I don’t know if this is an Aries thing (both myself and James are Aries and we’re terrible for it) but we love the thrill of doing things last minute.

If somebody gives us a year deadline we’ll still do it in the last week.

It’s when we don’t have a deadline that the problems occur. The problem is that it just never gets done.

That’s why I’ve told myself (and the world) that I’ll post on my blog every Tuesday and Friday without exceptions because I need a clear deadline for my brain to accept it.

Don’t just give up if you miss a day

Obstacles happen. Things are naturally going to get in your way and if you let one bad day derail you then you’ll never get to where you want to be.

Prepare for them, accept them and don’t let them ruin your day.

Just recently I had a late ski lesson which meant I didn’t plan time to do my Spanish lesson on Duolingo (a resolution I said I’d do every day).

The answer to that: these things happen. I’m not perfect but I’m trying to make little everyday steps towards my goal.

You wouldn’t hold that against me, so why would you hold it against yourself?

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