Hello and welcome to January! May we be the first to wish you a prosperous and happy 2024.
As it’s the first month of a brand new year, let’s talk about New Year’s resolutions. The promises we make ourselves to improve our lives, commit to doing something we’ve been avoiding, or just to lose a little weight. Every year, thousands of people make these resolutions, and every year a lot of them are very similar. But did you know that around 80% of people will lose their resolve and motivation just a few short weeks after making them? So this year, why not make a plan and see what changes you could make to help your resolutions stick this year.
Are New Year's Resolutions Good For Us?
Before you start, take a minute to think about if setting a New Year’s resolution would be good for you – because for some people, they aren’t. Some resolutions, like promising to go to the gym three times a week, deal in absolutes, which sets you up to fair right away. Over the 365 days and 52 weeks in the year there is bound to be at least one party, one parents evening or one anniversary that you can’t skip. There’s also probably going to be at least one week where the flu keeps you from leaving your bedroom – let alone your house. And when that does happen, you immediately feel like you’ve failed, and are much more likely to give up entirely. They also tend to focus on outcomes rather than progress, only acknowledging negativity. The negative thinking around resolutions can spur on a lot of negative emotions that can linger for a long time. Sometimes this can be a good motivator, but most of the time it isn’t.
We’re not saying resolutions are a bad idea, just that they should be approached with caution and the right attitude. That way the whole process is healthier for you, and you’re more likely to get a positive outcome.
Think Big, Then Break it Down
Tackling a really big problem all in one go can be hugely overwhelming, not to mention really difficult! It takes a long time, and you aren’t really able to see progress when you have just the one goal to focus on. And New Year’s resolutions always tend to be really big goals! Which is one of the reasons so many people struggle to meet them. So instead, think of the big goal you want to achieve, and then break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks with their own goals.
For example, say your goal for the new year was to ‘get into shape’. That’s a pretty big and ambiguous goal, so let’s break it down and choose one identifiable thing you want to be able to do by the end of December. Run five miles. Do ten pull-ups. Squat your body weight. It should be ambitious, but as we said earlier, realistic. Then, break it down some more. Look at the steps you need to take to achieve that goal. Set periodic goals (like being able to run half a mile, then one mile and so on) so that you can get a sense of accomplishment as you move along. This will help you stay motivated and make it more obvious that you’re making progress.
Celebrate the Little Wins
This creates positive feedback, which is like a drug to your neurons, and helps you stick to your plan. By setting and celebrating those little steps towards victory, you’re triggering the ‘reward’ part of your brain, which is an addictive feeling. Every time you achieve one of your small, achievable goals, you will get that rush of positive emotion soup. All of the dopamine and serotonin that gets released when you do something positive. Which is a big boost for your mental health, and can dramatically improve your mood and outlook. And that feeling is addictive, which will leave you more motivated to carry on and achieve the next goal.
Don’t Give Up
We know that this blog is going out in the first week of the month, which means you might well have already set your resolution for the year. You may even be struggling right now, or have given up. That’s OK, we’ve all done it! But the important thing is to pick yourself up and keep trying. Take stock and look at that resolution again, and see if you can break that big goal down into smaller chunks. Take it apart and use the pieces to build yourself a path of stepping stones to success. Each stepping stone is one more achievement, one more hop along the road to your big goal. And as long as you keep moving along that path, you know you’re making positive progress.
If tackling mental health challenges, learning how to relax or just improving your general mindset are part of your New Year’s resolution this year, then MELP can help. Our app is specifically designed to give you the mental health resources you need in the palm of your hand From meditations and sleep aids to hypnotherapy and stress management techniques, we have a wide range of options to suit everyone. We can help you find what works for you and build your own mental fitness toolbox. Try the Procrastination and Motivation curse, in the courses section on the main menu to get started and stay on track.