We've all had them: ambitious resolutions to give up smoking, drinking, shrink three dress sizes, land our dream job, find our future hubby and put away £1,000 in savings... all by February 1st.
Many of us will be familiar with those feelings of shame as we realise (only half way through January) that those good intentions have been abandoned, forgotten or are unravelling before our very peepers.
And should we be surprised? January is quite possibly the worst month to be setting oneself ambitious goals for the year ahead. Aside from it being dark and grizzly, we're also depressingly poor and still paying off December's overdraft. Add into the mix the fact that post Crimbo, most of us are significantly tubbier, recuperating from the stress of festive family friction, have recently endured the anti-climax of New Year's Eve and the ensuing two-day hangover... and to top it all off, now have to face the reality of going back to work. Whoopido.
Why the heck do we aspire to give up the very things that bring us comfort amidst such bleak January blues when experience tells us that resolutions are so often short-lived? Cue our motto... 'Get Addicted To The Good Stuff': instead of focusing on ditching what's bad for you, focus on the upsides of your newly adopted habit.
Replace the "I can't" mentality that focuses on the lack of, with gentle reminders of what can be enjoyed and what you are gaining. Instead of "I can't have my ten cigarettes a day", think, "I can have fresh breath", or "I can spend that money on a meal out instead." The principle of 'getting addicted to the good stuff' can be applied to any thing at any time; you've just got to be creative with your thinking.
To make it stick, firstly acknowledge an attitude of easy does it - after all, the tortoise often wins the race (it doesn't always pay to be a hasty hare). You'll increase the chances of sustaining your resolution long-term if you get off to a slow and steady start.
Secondly, always remember to start where you are. If you're planning on running a marathon in April but haven't yet been seen in your gym gear, accept that you won't be running 18 miles in the first session. Well you might, but you'll probably die. Perhaps begin with a 10 minute jog and increase it slowly.
Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.
Before any external improvements, such as; weight loss, bagging Romeo or attaining that dream career, your internal thoughts need some serious TLC. Our thoughts create our reality and so it stands to reason that if we desire a great reality, we need to be harbouring even greater thoughts.
You are not your mind. You can choose your thoughts. So start choosing them this year. Make 2014 the year you begin realising your potential and banish those self-sabotaging behaviours once and for all.
Before focusing outwardly, ask yourself about how you feel within. What weighs on your mind? What do you need to let go of? How do you want to feel in 2014?
Dry January and beyond...
What might you gain from a month or more off the booze? By focusing on abstinence, life can feel miserable and deprived but if you look at the reasons why you've needed to use alcohol excessively - and strive to overcome them - you might be onto something.
Feel socially awkward without a tipple to hand? Know it, own it and improve on it. Go out and practise socialising sober - you may want to dive into a hole initially (we certainly did) but stick at it and progress will be made.
Trying to give your poor liver a rest? Make it fun by choosing tasty mocktails on a night out and by upping your daily water intake. The results will be radiating through your skin, serving as a visible incentive to keep you off the juice - never mind saving a whole lotta pennies.
Aiming for a dramatic diet overhaul? Your waistline has undoubtedly expanded over the Christmas break and will be craving larger potions than usual. So fill it full... with the 'good stuff'!
Make a list of the health foods you actually enjoy eating; buy 'em and indulge. Restricting portion size or forcing yourself to eat 'good' foods you don't particularly like won't motivate you long-term. You can always step up the intensity once the January blues are behind you and you feel ready for a more militant diet regime. Rome was not built in a day, and neither will your Adonis body be.
If what Jim Rohn says about becoming 'the average of the five people you spend the most time with' is true, some of us may need to embark on a relationship cleanse in 2014.
Who are the people in your life that make you feel energised and expansive, as if anything is possible? Hold on to them and see more of them this year. 'Getting addicted to the good stuff' is all about surrounding yourself with people who want to see you at your best.
And the emotional vampires, the heartbreakers, the ones who leave you drained, frustrated and deflated on a regular basis? Take a gentle step back and make room for the new.
Time to get busy.
Happy New Year to you!