Most of us start the New Year with a fuzzy head and a clear set of goals. After all, we’ve spent the past few weeks partying hard, working late and spending big. We
But there’s nothing worse than finding your willpower waning and your resolutions faltering before you’ve even turned the first page of your diary.
So, make this year different. Don’t set impossibly high goals for yourself – you can lose weight, get fit, lower stress, improve wellbeing and relationships without enrolling in your own private boot camp.
If you want to succeed, enlist the support of friends and family as they are more likely to keep you motivated. And set achievable targets which you can attain gradually. Don’t be tempted to set dozens of goals – research indicates the less goals you have, the higher the success rate.
Psychologist Sarah Piper advises using positive language when forming your resolutions. ‘Any resolutions with the word “must” are doomed to failure,’ she says, ‘because you are instantly putting pressure on yourself.’ Sarah suggests using inspiring and nurturing words such as hope and aspire.
It’s also good if you can personalise your resolutions, so spend some time evaluating what it is you want to achieve and what you need to change in your life. Here are some ideas to get you started…
# 1 – meditate don’t detonate!
Life is busier than ever. Most of us have jobs, family and an ever-increasing to do list, so take time out every day to just “be”. You don’t have to sit cross-legged chanting “om”, but find something that works for you. It’s a good idea to have a particular place to meditate – build yourself a shrine with a statue of a Buddha or something that makes you feel peaceful.
Try to set a particular time to meditate – ten minutes is enough if you are busy. Just sit comfortably, focus on your breath and try to clear your mind of any thoughts. The more you do this, the easier it will become and you’ll soon feel calmer and more able to cope with your hectic schedule. To make it even easier you may wish to join Ten Minute Tone which has six guided ten minute meditations to suit your mood and energy levels.
#2 – Healthy eating
Research has shown that people think healthy foods take more time to cook than unhealthy foods, so when we’re pushed for time we slip into bad eating habits.
Nutritionist Victoria Inglis says: ‘Shop for healthy foods to ensure lots of suitable choices are on hand. If the pantry doesn’t have a lot of junk food in it, it is easier to limit treat intake.’
Victoria suggests you are more likely to eat fruit if you chop and peel it in a salad early in the week, rather than leaving it in a bowl. She also advises focusing on food that is quick and easy to prepare, but cheap and healthy, such as lean meat and vegetable casseroles and jacket potatoes topped with kidney beans and chopped salad vegetables.
And don’t forget to make time for breakfast – the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast helps to improve concentration, learning and memory. In addition, breakfast eaters tend to have better diets and be a healthy body weight too. Victoria’s suggestions include: high-fibre cereal; milk and sliced banana; porridge with milk topped with sultanas and a drizzle of honey; fruit smoothie made with milk and yoghurt; high-fibre toast with Vegemite.
#3 – slim down and tone up
Take some time to look at your fitness – set your own goals. Do you want to tone up, lose weight or increase stamina? You’re far more likely to stick with an exercise routine you enjoy, so if you’ve always loved dancing, then try a Ceroc lesson. Or maybe join a tennis club. And if motivation is a problem then book into a term of classes. It’s always easier when you work out with a friend – so find a fitness buddy. And remember to check with your doctor before embarking on a new exercise regime.
#4 – save money
We’re all facing a credit crunch at the moment, especially after Christmas. So keep a money diary for a week – and persuade your whole family to take part! This is a great practice to check out just where your money is going – and where you need to cut back. Then challenge yourself – try to spend one day a week (or a month!) without spending a cent! And if you find you are spending too much, do the money diary again – it’s much harder to justify when you have to write it down!
#5 – emotional
Make an emotional resolution – do you want to be happier, more considerate or calmer? Then make a pledge to go for it!
Psychologist Sarah Piper says: ‘Think about what it is in your life that makes you feel good – is it fun, peace, contentment? Then look at what it is in your life that makes you feel that way. It could be being with your family, when you have more sleep or a time you were particularly generous. If it was being with your family then look at how you can spend more time with them. It’s a bit like finding a spark and turning it into a flame.’
#6 six – reduce your carbon footprint
Look after the environment that looks after you. Write down what you do for the planet – anything from turning off light switches to recycling and saving water.
Aim to do one thing a month to make a difference. It could be planting a native tree in your garden or installing a rain tank. If you have the time, volunteer with a conservation group to help re-vegetate your local area. Contact Landcare, Greening Australia, the Australian Trust for Conservation Volunteers or call your local council to find out more.
And remember if you do fail, then you don’t have to give up. Just view it as a blip and keep up with your resolution. Good luck – and Happy New Year!