As my boss Callum often puts it, he loves living in Asia because you can make resolutions for the New Year and if you fail to keep it, just make new ones for Chinese New Year. If that fails, you can always try again with the Thai New Year. If that fails… etc etc.
New Year resolutions almost never work. We often make grand promises to ourselves of some new thing we plan to do, but seldom keep up with it. Why is that so?
Personally for me, it’s because I give up too easily. It starts with something as simple as drink 2 litres of water per day. I do it for 1st, 2nd and 3rd Jan. Come 4th Jan, I only manage 1 litre… so because I have broken my New Year’s resolution, I might as well keep breaking it. HAHA. How many people have broken numerous resolutions because of this?
So what is the secret to making and keeping resolutions?
1) Don’t wait for New Years.
New Years resolutions are great, but why must we wait til the New Years to make a new resolution? If you want to make a change to improve your life, do it now, do it today. Don’t wait for some magical date to make it happen. Commit to it immediately and do it.
Example: I want to lose weight. I’m carrying around post pregnancy weight for almost 2 years now and it is starting to bug me. I know I need to eat less bad foods and eat healthier foods. I also need to move more. Did I wait until New Year to implement this? NO! I implemented it immediately. Once I have committed myself to the desire of weight loss, every decision I make on food and exercise revolves around it. So on the very same day, I had water instead of coke, ate yong tau foo instead of deep fried chicken wings, skipped cake and have fruit instead. Some people will start pigging out on fried foods, soda and other forbidden foods all the way until New Year. This is a HORRIBLE strategy because the more sugar your body is loaded with, the harder it is to convince your body that you don’t need that much sugar. It’s also counterproductive because if you have a month until New Year, when 1st Jan comes around, you are likely to be facing more weight you have to lose because of the pigging out you did the month before.
Don’t wait, just do it.
2) Be realistic.
A lot of times we make unrealistic resolutions and wonder why we fail. Some things are just not possible and if we insist on pushing ourselves in that direction, we are setting ourselves up for failure.
Example: I decided that I wanted to write more. Once I decided that, I did it by first looking at my calendar and figuring out how many posts a week I could write without disrupting my current schedule too much. I knew writing daily was impossible and if I had set that as a goal, I would have failed in the first week. Given the time I have available to myself in a week, the max I can squeeze out is a couple of hours every 2 or 3 days. I could have decided on twice a week, but that seemed too comfortable. So that is how I came up with 3 times a week. Resolutions need to push us a little out of our comfort zone and challenge us. It also needs to be done on a frequent basis so that it becomes a habit.
Don’t make resolutions that are impossible to keep. Make those that can eventually become a habit.
3) Help yourself.
There is this thing called self sabotage and we all do it. It’s how we say we will start a new diet, but pile the grocery cart with snacks or how we say we won’t buy anymore new stuff, but still surf Amazon in our free time. When I make a new resolution, I make sure I help myself and not sabotage myself.
Example: I know I don’t drink enough water and I know that I’m a lazy ass when it comes to getting water. So when I made the resolution to drink at least 2 litres of water a day, I bought bottles. I put a bottle on my desk, I put a bottle on the bedside table, I put a bottle in my bag and I also put a bottle in my spare bag. This helps in 2 ways. Whenever I take a break from looking at my computer, I see the bottle of water on my desk and automatically reach for it. Whenever I am out and feel thirsty, instead of buying a sugared drink, I reach inside my bag and drink water instead. I know if I don’t have all these bottles within reach, I will end up either not drinking water, or buying sugared water and drinking that instead. By having water available at all times, I end up drinking more water and can easily hit my daily 2 litre target.
Don’t self sabotage. Help yourself by making it easier to keep the resolution.
4) It’s ok to take a break sometimes.
This one took a lot for me to master. In the past whenever I broke a resolution, I would just say “Oh well” and decide to give up. That is a really poor attitude and shows how little the resolution really means. Now my new strategy is to accept that sometimes stuff happens. We just need to ignore the break and continue keeping the resolution.
Example: Back to the weight loss example. It is easy to keep to a healthy food diet when you can make good choices and decisions about the food. What happens when you are invited to dinner and when you get there, you realise they are serving pasta in cream sauce topped with fried soft shell crab and a heavenly triple chocolate brownie with double chocolate chip ice cream for dessert? Most people will say “Don’t eat” or “Eat a little bit”. I say “Eat what you want and until you are satisfied.” I know myself well enough that should I not eat this meal and see other people savouring it, I will keep thinking and obsessing about it. Especially the dessert. Eventually my body will crave for it so much that I’ll end up going to look for this heavenly triple chocolate brownie with double chocolate chip ice cream. So now if I need to take a break, I do that, but I do it rarely and always remember to continue keeping my resolution after that break.
Don’t let one break ruin the entire resolution. Take a break and then move on. Also, breaks should be a rare treat so don’t abuse it.
These are the ways I have helped myself make and keep my resolutions. It is also the reason why I never make New Year’s resolutions any more. I much rather make resolutions as and when I need to and find ways to ensure I keep to those resolutions.
What are the resolutions you have made and how have you managed to keep them? Do share your tips in the comments below.