How To Keep A New Year’s Resolution … Even If You’ve Fallen Behind Already

Tips for those who've stumbled (or failed to start). It's been a tough January, after all.

We’re less than a fortnight into January, but if you’ve already slipped up on your new year’s resolution – or are yet to muster the energy to start it – all is not lost.

Despite the hype, new year doesn’t provide an instant transition into “new you” – 1 January is just an arbitrary date, after all, and 20201 has already provided a testing backdrop.

When it comes to adopting sustainable, positive habits, slow and steady really does win the race. But if you’ve ground to a halt entirely, how do you reset the reset?

Life Coach Directory member Linda King says if you’ve struggled to make a start on your resolution, it’s a good idea to ask yourself why you wanted to make the change in the first place.

“Is it because you really want it for yourself for health, mental health or wellbeing reasons, or is it something you feel you should be doing? There’s a big difference between a ‘should’ and a ‘want to,’” she tells HuffPost UK. “To succeed with our goals, they need to be something we really want.”

Life coach Karen Liebenguth, founder of Green Space Coaching, adds that lacking the motivation to start your resolution could also be a sign it’s the wrong size – and an adjustment is in order. “Resolutions that are too big can make us feel overwhelmed; too small will leave us feeling bored or uninspired and will stop us from taking that crucial first step,” she explains.

For that extra boost towards taking the first step, King recommends visualising how your life will be once you’ve achieved your goal. “Make the image colourful, step inside it and find out how it will feel once you have succeeded and, if applicable, see the positive effect it will have on other people in your life,” she says. “Smile. Get that image associated with a good feeling.”

If your resolution involves giving something up – be that shopping, smoking, alcohol, social media or meat – King says it’s better to concentrate on the “better habit” you’re creating, rather than focusing on the “bad habit” you’re stopping. For example, if you’re trying not to buy any new clothes online in 2021, focus on the positives, such as falling back in love with old gems in your wardrobe, plus all that money you’ll be saving, rather than the new purchases you’re “missing out on”.

If you’ve made an effort towards your new goal, but slipped up by drinking that wine / smoking that cigarette / buying that top, the key is to forgive yourself.

“Be your own best friend and encourage yourself by saying: ‘It’s okay and human to slip up, it happens to us all. I can start again whenever I want. I have what it takes. I can do it,’” says Liebenguth

A manageable goal is one that is made up of steps, adds King. “Sometimes we may slip back a step but provided we know in which direction we are going we are still on our way.” And if you’re frustrated with your progress, she recommends regular self-assessments to keep yourself moving forwards.

“At the end of the day, review your progress with a kind, non-judgemental attitude,” she says. “Celebrate what you have achieved and think about what you could do differently.”

And remember, if adopting a new habit while you’re cold, in January, in a national lockdown isn’t working, it is okay to move the timeline.

“Resolutions – or goals – are for any time of year, not just January 1st,” says King. “If you struggle with short winter days, you may find change easier when the days are longer and lighter. Whatever it is you want, have a plan for working towards it, even if that plan includes the month you will start working towards the change.”