Screw New Year’s resolutions, try this instead

Wednesday 21 January 2015
  • Alien invasion: an OK reason to slack off
    Alien invasion: an OK reason to slack off

New year, new you. What a load of *cough*.

Every year the majority of people make their new year’s resolutions and the following year they make the same resolution again. Simply because they haven’t achieved it.

It’s time for a different approach.

Getting started

Before we get the ball rolling, ask yourself…

# 1: How bad do you want it?

# 2: Why do you want it?

The answer to the first question should be obvious, but the answer to the second needs to be super clear and you have to be 100% committed to it. That is, you can’t find any other reason to not see ‘it’ through.

To stay motivated ‘it’ has to be something you actually want to achieve (not like “I’m going to give up chocolate” – what sane person wants to do that to themselves) and something you realistically think you can achieve.

Big change = scary

Now more often than not, New Year’s resolutions are huge, sweeping statements that essentially mean you have to change who you are or what you do.

We put off the stuff that seems mammoth, or really really hard. For example, weight loss (yep, it’s still the number one resolution by the way). Losing weight takes a lot of time and effort, and what’s more, it’s a total lifestyle change.

There are those that can make drastic change. But these people don’t make New Year’s resolutions. They’re already out there training for marathons, helping the homeless or travelling the world. They certainly don’t need this advice.

Small changes = doable

The best strategy is to take baby steps. You don’t just wake up one day and start doing a whole new thing. You’ve got to teach yourself new tricks to form a lasting habit.

Making easy, itsy bitsy changes is the way forward. If you want to be able to run 10k, start by just going out for a 10-minute run every day. If you want to make yoga part of your daily routine, start by just doing 5 minutes of stretching when you first get up.

You’ll be surprised how quickly you’ll start to push past your small goals. But on the days that you don’t – you still win.

Tactics to turn tiny habits into ‘the new you’

  1. The key is to make the small change something you do daily. Even when you’re crazy busy, you’ve got to be able to fit it in. Skipping is unacceptable (unless there’s a family crisis, you get struck by lightning, or aliens invade – then you can slack off).
  1. Time your tiny habit right. If possible, always make sure you have some free time afterwards. That’s how your 10-minute run turns into 30 minutes or how your warm up becomes a 45-minute workout. BUT don’t subconsciously think you need to do a 45-minute workout. Your habit is a 5-minute warm up. Do that and you’re winning.
  1. Make your tiny habit stupidly easy. Doing 10 minutes of sit ups sounds tiny, but it’s not as tiny as doing 10 sit ups. Trim it down. The more ridiculously quick and easy it is, the less likely you’ll be to skip a day.
  1. Failure is not an option. Doing your tiny habit daily, without fail, will send your confidence through the roof. You’ll love the feeling of being ‘one of those people’ who can beat procrastination and get stuff done.
  1. Think of your willpower as a muscle. The more regularly you use it, the stronger it gets. Tackling your tiny habit every day is like soccer practice for your willpower. You’ll get stuck into it quicker, be more likely to up your game each time and undoubtedly, succeed in make it part of your routine.

Why this is worth a try

If you’ve made the same, or similar, New Year’s resolution year after year, it’s time to try something new.

“We’re quick to blame ourselves for lack of progress, but slow to blame our strategies. Then we repeat them over and over again, trying to make them work. But here’s the thing – if you fail using a strategy more than a few times, you need to try another one.” Stephen Guise

Make a tiny habit, not a New Year’s resolution, and wow yourself with the results.


Flickr Creative Commons Image via JD Hancock.

 

Amy Cox

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
AMY COX
Amy is UQ Sport’s resident blogger. She’s a peanut-butter loving Brit, who exercises to eat whatever she wants. You’ll find Amy either in the gym, playing badminton or doing the wrong moves in group fitness classes.