Did you stick to your New Year’s resolutions in January? If you failed at the first hurdle, this guide to setting goals could help…
There are two types of people in the world. The first has a strange and mysterious skill called “willpower” and the second is devoid of this quality and left bumbling along in life never quite achieving their goals or completing their to-do list.
Unfortunately I fall in to the latter category. At the start of the year, I attempted Dry January but after just 5 days and a whiff of Prosecco it was all over (I’m a sucker for a free drink). And although I enjoyed that delicious, bubbly drink, I was left with a deflated feeling and a underlying frustration that I never seem to see anything through to the end.
All around me, people display huge amounts of willpower, from my Brunch n Grind partner-in-crime, Kat, who aced Dry January to my boyfriend who has managed to effortlessly cut meat AND processed foods from his diet.
But I know I’m not alone in feeling like a total failure when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. You only have to go to the gym a few weeks in to January to see how the crowds of keen resolutions-makers have waned and retreated back to the comfort of their sofas.
So, I gave myself January to decompress, take it easy and think about all the things I really want to achieve in 2017. Here are my top tips for setting goals and sticking to them:
Work to your own schedule
All that talk of “New Year, New You” in January can have the opposite effect and actually de-motivate you. Who decided January 1st is the time for a new beginning or life overhaul? The calendar is nothing more than a method of dividing and marking time, so if you spent January hibernating and watching Netflix, so what? Today is as good a day as any. Start now!
Break it down
Goals should always be attainable and measurable and setting bite-sized weekly or daily goals over the course of the month is much more satisfying way of tracking progress. It’s also important to remember that at any time, you can change your goals and re-align them with the bigger picture.
Invest in a journal
I spent last year adding to a never-ending list on my iPhone notes. Things to do, restaurants to remember, exhibitions to check out, articles to read. When I look back at that list now, it fills me with dread at all the things I didn’t get round to doing.
This year I’m going back to using a physical journal, which accounts for the things I have done. It’s much more therapeutic to spend a few minutes each evening, being present and taking stock of the day rather than adding to your iPhone screen time and never-ending to-do lists.
Kikki.K in Covent Garden does the most amazing stationery, journals and planners and they also hold seminars in-store to help you achieve goals and form new habits.
Two years on from my first lesson and I’m still learning French. OK, so I can string a few sentences together now, but I’ve never quite buckled down to nail the verbs or vocabulary. Why? Because there’s no deadline. Ongoing goals seem to stretch ahead of us forever but by creating an end point, it adds a sense of urgency that can push you to achieve more.
Create a routine
One of my goals this year is to read more books. I seem to collect them faster than I can get through them, so as the pile of novels builds up on my bedside table, so does the feeling of anxiety. As of today, I’m reserving Sunday evenings purely for reading and by the end of the year I’ll have tackled my book stash and given myself valuable time to relax and unwind, too.
Visualise your goals
While on Antigone’s yoga retreat in Cyprus last year, we spent an evening flicking through magazines, cutting and sticking images on to a mood board to represent our goals. What things would you like to bring to your life over the coming weeks and months? Put it down on paper and then when you set intentions for yoga practice or lie down to sleep at night, you’ll have a visual representation of your goals in your mind’s eye.
Be kind and reward yourself
Most importantly, if you fall off the wagon, don’t beat yourself up about it. We’ve all been there and slipped off course but every day brings the opportunity to set new goals, so it’s easy to get back on track. When you do achieve even a small step, give yourself a reward in the form of something you love. A hot bath, a relaxing yoga class or a delicious brunch with friends.
Check out our latest brunch recommendations here and good luck!