Monday January 5, 2009
By Jane Sunley
The six year olds' perspective on resolutions:
I spent much of the New Year's break explaining the concept of New Year's resolutions to two six year olds and fielding questions like 'Well, why don't people just do those things at any time of the year?' Well, you have to admit they have a point and it reminded me that I've never really 'done' the resolutions thing. I do sit down in-between Christmas and New Year every year though to write my list of 'What I want out of the coming year'. This might include work goals and aspirations, personal goals and even a bit of a to-do list of things that need sorting out like fixing the window in the spare bedroom. It takes me into the New Year feeling positive, motivated and, if it doesn't sound too idealistic, full of hope and excitement for what's to come. And I love looking back at my list at the end of the year and seeing everything crossed through.
Whilst many people bring about real change through the channel of the NY Resolution, there are others who set out with resolutions knowing that after a while they'll give up and go back to the way things were. It makes them feel good to have a go, and please their loved ones for a while, but they know it's only a short term thing really. The six year old sceptics, told me their father resolves to quit smoking and lose weight every year and then is always puffing away and ordering take aways again by February. So you can understand their confusion about the concept.
So how about trying the list of goals and make them a way of life rather than a flash in the pan. It's challenging to make a change that lasts so here are a few tips:
- Think about what you want to change and why - make sure you can stay committed to something you really want to do
- Write it down and if you're feeling brave tell others so it becomes more real
- Break it down into manageable chunks so you have a plan to follow in stages rather than expecting too much change at once
- If things don't go to plan keep motivated, think about alternatives and keep determined to succeed - it's a cliche but where there's a will, there's a way
- Give yourself rewards and celebrate your achievements
And if you don't want to commit to the longer term goal setting, and as most of the population at least have a go at starting, stopping or changing something, here are a few general tips for making New Year's resolutions last and maybe even become a year long goal (and beyond)...
- Make only one resolution. The chances of success are greater if you put your effort and their energy into changing just one thing.
- Think about how best to use your energy, take some time to reflect upon what you really want to achieve.It takes time for a change to become a habit so stick at it
- Avoid repeating previous resolutions, as well as being a possible route to frustration and disappointment, you will feel better if you put your efforts into something new or even approach an old problem in a new way.
- Use SMART goals - specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, timed - washy washy plans often fail.
- Make it personal. Think about what you really want out of life and make it measurable ie so you know when you achieved it; such as finishing your book, dropping two sizes or learning to sing your favourite song, rather than non-specific like losing weight or joining the gym.
If you start today, how will things be a year from now? So, what are you going to change in 2009?