New Year's Resolutions have a bad rep. Despite best intentions, most resolutions are already failed and forgotten by the end of January. A study by the University of Bristol found that only 12% of resolutions were successfully kept.
Despite this, I'm a big fan of "NYRs" and believe they can be beneficial for both mental health and general well being - as long as they're made in the right kind of way. The key to good NYRs is using them to celebrate your successes and basing them on what you hope to gain, rather than give up.
One of my favourite New Year's Eve traditions is sharing NYRs with my husband over dinner. It offers a chance to reflect on the year that's passed, take stock and look forward to the year ahead with optimism, hope and excitement. Something we all need as we make our way through January!
The rules are simple:
- Write down all the things you were proud of in 2016 and any achievements, no matter how small
- Make a list of everything you hope to do in 2017
- Share your resolutions with someone you care about
Of course, if you're planning on giving up or restricting things in your life (such as not drinking alcohol on weekdays or quitting sugar) then you're likely to fail in the long term. Those definitely aren't the sort of resolutions I'm talking about.
Think about your hopes, dreams and goals for the year: new things you want to do or try out, places you'd like to visit, work goals or people you'd like to see. Rather than giving up, it's all about gaining.
The start of a new year offers the perfect time to review our lives. Often we are so focused on getting through the day that we forget to stop, step back and remind ourselves of the things we're happy with - what's gone well, what made us laugh, and what we'd like to improve on.
See the new year as a fresh start. Use it to renew your motivation and allow yourself to let go of the things that didn't go so well or that you weren't so happy with. Avoid guilt or self-criticism and focus instead on where you want to go to next.
By making resolutions, you're setting your intentions for the year ahead. These act as a map of where you'd like to head and carry you through the harder days giving you something to aim for and look forward to.
The good feelings don't stop there, working towards and reaching your goals is brilliant for confidence and self-esteem. They give you a sense of purpose and feeling of fulfilment and when your mood is higher you're more likely to succeed at making changes in the other areas of your life that you wish to tackle.
My top tips for making and keeping 2017 NYRs:
Make a positive change
Resolutions work best when their aim is to make a positive change. Keep them simple and ensure they are realistic and achievable. Take time making them, if you make them too hastily they may only reflect how you were feeling at that time.
Step out of your comfort zone
It's good to do things that mean you take a step out of your comfort zone. New experiences, new hobbies and challenging ourselves on a regular basis are massively important for maintaining good mental health, personal growth and improving self-esteem.
Have a mix of goals
Include small, medium and big goals. Have some goals that are outward focused - charitable, community based or involving others, so it's not all about you.
Break them down
If it's a bigger goal, break it down so that it's clear what you'll need to do to achieve it. Don't add too many rules - there's no need to start them exactly on the 1st or to have to do them 100% of the time.
Enjoy the journey as well as the destination
Ensure you enjoy yourself as you work towards your goals - if you're only focused on the end point, you won't gain the full benefits. How you get there and what you learn along the way is as important as the destination and it's ok to make mistakes it's just part of the process.
Reserve the right to change your mind
Your goals don't need to be set in stone or last forever. I always reserve the right to change my mind! If it's not working or you don't like it, you can be pleased you tried it, but know it's not for you.
Dreams are so important to living well and feeling good
Make 2017 the year that you dream big and look to gain from your resolutions so you fill your year with hope and optimism. Good luck! (And let me know how you get on!)