New Year’s resolutions are often a sticky subject, most of us make them and most of us give up on them fairly quickly. This is appearing on 7th January and I’m wondering how many New Year’s Resolutions have already been broken. I think it’s often because we set our targets too high (I will fly solo across the Atlantic on a peddle powered bike) or they are too nebulous and ill defined (I will get healthier this year). We set ourselves up for failure. I eat way too much chocolate (words my wife will never hear me utter) and three or four times I made a resolution to give up chocolate. My best was broken on 3rd February that year and my worst faltered on 2nd January. Lacking will-power, life threatening health issues or any other major incentive I could not go from “lots” to none.
I think two of the best metaphors for life are the journey and the story. Each recognises that everything is part of a sequence of small events. I went to the Isle of Wight for New Year. For this to happen we had to agree as a family we would do it. We had to look at accommodation options, we had to look at what else we were doing on New Year’s Eve before we could make transport arrangements. We had to pack, drive to the ferry and board the ferry. The list goes on and on. The option to just wake up on the Isle of Wight was not available.
I think it’s like that with resolutions but the problem is that we want instant fixes. We look for a miraculous power to make us slimmer, fitter or richer which is why, so often, we fail. For many people diets and diet clubs only work as long as you maintain them, the diet that let you shed 5st will pile it all back on as soon as you stop. The gym works, as long as you keep going to the gym.
So, what do we do? Do we give up and assume change is impossible so why even try? I think no, we don’t give up. As the parking machine in the Swan Centre in Eastleigh says, “change is possible”. We just have to be a little kinder and a little gentler with ourselves. Treat your resolution as a journey and set out steps along the way. If your resolution is to get fitter and, at the moment you are a couch potato like me, set yourself a goal of walking for 15 or 30 minutes a day and once you achieve it and it becomes easier you can increase it. If you’re goal is to spend less time on screens decide what your alternative will be and approach it in small steps. If it’s reading more, set aside 15 minutes for it to start with. If it’s a good book that time will go up very quickly as you get hooked. If it’s to learn something new again start with a length of time you can safely guarantee is achievable on a regular basis. I set my self a target of updating this blog at least every two weeks. That gives me two weeks to think of a topic and an hour to write it. Setting aside that hour to write is occasionally difficult but achievable. Sometimes the gaps between posts have been smaller or bigger but ‘m not beating myself up about that.
Small successes build to bigger successes and it all comes down to changing lifestyle rather than magic wands.