Have you made any New Year resolutions this year? People who make them are 10 times more likely to change their behaviour. But to reach your goals they must be attainable and not too vague. If you are still on them, congratulations! You already have passed the three-week ditch point, and you are very likely to hang on and succeed. If you have given up, you still have a chance to treat this as just a temporary lapse and get back on.
The major themes of NY resolutions are to be healthier, fitter and better off financially, statisticians report. I personally subscribe to that general trend, asking myself every year: “How can I live healthier and more sustainably?” My answer is always: “Learn new skills and get rid of old habits” and if that sounds pretty vague to you, that’s because it is! Are your resolutions also quite broad and imprecise, and most importantly; do you have any idea how to go about achieving what you want?
In the course of my plight with ambiguous and bleary resolutions, I have worked out a method of turning long-term plans into reality, which I would like to share. So, regardless whether you are still on your resolution list, or have lapsed on it, here is a useful way to jump on the New Year’s resolution success bandwagon and ride it to the last stop:
Make a list of what you’d like to change (like “lose 10 kilograms”; “create a safe, chemical-free household for my family” etc). While this sounds like an obvious start, making a good list helps you focus on the desired long-term results. If you have made it already, it is time for the next step:
Break each goal into small tasks, practical things you need to do to achieve the end result (“make your own lunch”; “walk to work 2 times a week”; “learn how to make natural creams”). Put the list where you will see it often: on your smartphone or computer wallpaper; on your fridge or next to the bathroom mirror. It reminds you to follow up on what you wrote.
Start small, just one thing at a time. Choose something that is relevant to your life now and propels you towards the big goal. Do not try to make all changes in a short time. If you introduce just one change a week to your life’s routines, at the end of the year you’ll have taken 52 steps on the path to success! For example, if you’d like to live healthier by reducing exposure to chemicals, you may choose one week to start replacing certain ordinary food items with their organic equivalents; second week to make natural, all-purpose cleaner for the kitchen; third week to learn how to preserve fruit or vegetables which are now in season or grow in your garden (it is the tomato time, after all!)… and so on…
Apply the change every day until it becomes a habit. With everyday repetition, when you pass the three week mark, there is a good chance that you will stick to your plan. Practice the new skills or behaviours often. If you have dropped the ball and returned to the old habits, don’t fret, nobody’s perfect. Restart the next day.
Good luck with your plans for the rest of 2015!
PS: I am following one of my NY resolutions (make at least 200 jars of preserves during the year) and went to the garden to harvest some tomatoes, onions, chilli and herbs to make a fermented tomato salsa – nearly 2 litres of it! I will keep you posted on my progress, and if you would like to share your New Year’s resolution list please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org