A resolution to set achievable goals.
January may be the month for resolutions, but every day is the opportunity to try something new
Goals, resolutions, intentions, whatever you might call them, often consist of changing habits like becoming fitter or starting a new hobby, perhaps some well-deserved self-care. Here are my three tips to shake things up and help you stick to your plan.
1. Find a buddy
This year I took part in Red January, a campaign that encourages us to be active every day throughout January whilst raising money and awareness for the mental health charity, Mind. By being involved with others, through social media and at the free sessions that were available as part of the initiative, I felt motivated to exercise every day – be that running, walking or returning to hockey after nearly three decades!!.Thank you HC Knole Park. Most importantly it made January a much easier month than it has been in the past.
Campaigns like this are a great way to kick start your goal as they help you feel the benefits and carve out time for a new habit in your life.
Involving someone in your goal is a fantastic way to help you achieve it. They help keep you on track. Team sports are great for accountability or running with a friend or perhaps joining one of the many running groups that now exist (I love Just Run in Tonbridge!). I have met new people and made great friendships through running since becoming a mum. In short, don’t go it alone; share your goal journey with others.
2. Make small changes
If your aim is to run a 10k by June but you’ve never run before, you’d be silly to make your first training run 10k. You need to build up gradually, making small changes to your routine to allow you to fit in some small runs, building up to longer runs.
And that methodology can be applied to all habits that you’d like to change – make small changes and you’ll be amazed at the way they all add up and lead to a big impact.
‘The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improved it by 1%, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.’ Sir Dave Brailsford (2012), Sky cycling team coach on the principle of marginal gains. An approach that led to the surge in GB Olympic cycling medals.
3. Make a goal matter
‘Studies have shown that we are often so worried about failure that we create vague goals, so that nobody can point the finger when we don’t achieve them. We come up with face-saving excuses, even before we have attempted anything.’ Matthew Syed, Black Box Thinking
It’s important to set goals that really matter to you. Be choosy. Don’t write a list of ten goals for the year when there are only three on the list that stir the emotions.
Think about why the goal matters and if you conclude that you’re ambivalent about it or you’re not sure you’ll care in a few months’ time, scrap it from the list.
Be realistic too: if exercising daily isn’t feasible for you, don’t set that as your goal; you will fall at the first hurdle. Instead, maybe you could set the goal of going to the gym or doing a class just twice a week, joining a netball club or walking/cycling to work some days. As we all know, exercise can be addictive as we feel good afterwards and it really does help our mental health.
If your goals are too ambitious, you are more likely to become disheartened and fail, and for many people, that’s the signal to throw the towel in: “I’m clearly not built to exercise daily as I can’t stick to it so why bother at all?”
By carefully and realistically considering what success looks like to you, taking into account the odd twist and turn that life takes, you’re more likely to achieve your goal and stick with it throughout the year. If it’s realistic, going to the gym three times a week will be feasible and will become a habit. And as we know, habits are hard to break.
If you’ve started to make changes and already you can feel your enthusiasm waning, don’t give up. There are so many positives for you to consider – the mental health benefits, for example, and being a role model to younger members of your family. I’ve loved seeing my daughter’s increased interest in exercise and sport as a result of my efforts. It’s so important to help our children create healthy active habits for the future.
So, I encourage you to go through these points and rewrite those goals to make them more achievable. Be kind to yourself. Good luck!