It's that time of year. Most people will have already made resolutions. Twitter and Facebook are awash with posts declaring how people are planning to get organised, eat better, get fit. I say don't do it. Rip them up, press delete. Don't set yourself up to fail.
Okay, I will admit many people feel quite cleansed starting the New Year with new ideas, things to start doing, bad habits to stop. And I cannot fault that. As long as we are realistic and consider the destructive element failure can have on your psyche if you don't succeed. One year I even went as far as to write down my aims, much in the way you have annual performance targets at work. Each had a measurable element and a deadline in a nifty spreadsheet. I misguidedly thought that my promises needed more structure in order to be a success. Needless to say, it worked a little longer than the usual resolutions but didn't last past Easter.
Many people make very ambitious New Year's resolutions: lose three stone, go to the gym five times a week, stop smoking, detox for a month. In fact, the British Liver Trust are on my wavelength with the latter, advising that longer term action such as cutting back alcohol is more beneficial for your health. After several attempts at resolutions and stumbling at the first hurdles, what I finally realised is by buying into the New Year's resolution fantasy I had effectively started the year procrastinating. I could have been working on my ideas and making improvements to my life at any point in the year. I had to ask myself why I had the same items on my list year after year? Sound familiar? If not, then congratulations, you have it cracked.
However, for many of us, we need to change the way we perceive personal improvement. Firsly by not biting off more than is reasonable to chew. Sounds like I'm teaching your mother's mother to suck on eggs but the most effective way to make change is little by little. You'll learn at any bog standard time management course to carve your cheese into wedges and demolish each one bit by bit (not a great analogy for dieters, admittedly). And with breaking any addiction, most programmes will tell you to take it one day, one week, one month at a time. In fact, the only resolution I continue to make is, when the opportunity presents itself to make a difference, I'll seize it there and then.
If you're the impatient type small steps isn't satisfying enough for you. But if you fail your big plans, you really have only have a few choices to break the cycle. This is where you need to look back. Count your successes, add them all up. I promise you will be surprised.
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