1484050430755Five ways to make January changes that last for life

It’s the second week back at work in January. For many of us, the aftershocks of post festive over indulgence on our bank accounts and waist lines are now being felt alongside the back to work gloom and broken resolutions. It’s usually around now in this season of mid-winter bleakness, that we are left wondering if we are really capable of putting our “new year, new me” resolutions to good use.

I’ve been guilty of this too, finding myself reaching for the biscuit tin and left over Christmas chocolates and falling into instant diet self sabotage.

But before you fall off the wagon completely, it’s time to rethink and reclaim January.

1.Recognise that January is just one month.

A famous and well known quote by Bill Gates is that “most people over estimate what they can achieve in one year and underestimate what they can achieve in five years.” That same philosophy can be applied to the flurry of well-intentioned changes that people try to usher into their lives in January. January can be a time to begin to establish and to set up habits and ground work that you then continue to work on for the rest of the year. Let’s just be honest. There is only so much you can do at once and only so much that you can feel motivated to do when the weather is bleak, funds low and the year has only just got started.

Instead, use this time to start up good habits and plan mini goals for throughout the year.

You could start by

  • Getting up 20 minutes earlier each day to begin with stretching and some quick exercise
  • Researching protein rich healthy meals that can be prepared on a budget
  • Aiming to walk more and taking the stairs every morning
  • Aiming to do one thing, however small every day towards a skills that you are trying to develop.

 2. Think about what it is that you actually want and visualise how obtaining it would make you feel.

Whatever the goal, visualise what it is that you specifically want. How would you feel hitting your goal weight, crossing the finish line at that marathon, or branching out into a new career? See it and now absorb the feeling that it evokes.

Next, make your intentions public. Tell other people and join online support forums.

Announcing your goals makes things all the more real and as other people are now aware, they are potentially holding you to account. Engaging with social media support groups enables you to network amongst people striving for similar or even greater goals and can act as a boost of positive influence.

3. Take action and set dates that you have to make.

This works especially well for fitness. Instead of generalised thoughts and goals about wanting to “get fit” or “lose weight”, sign up to actual events. Take action and sign up to a 5K, a 10K or another sporting event. Force yourself into a position where you have to change your lack of weekly exercise.

Sign up to weight loss programmes or a course you are interested in taking. From personal experience I have found this to be a highly effective approach. You are setting specific time limited goals, there is no space to coast along without focus.

4. A bad day or a relapse is not a reason to give up

Let’s be real. Just because it is a new year, does not mean that overnight that you have become a new you. You will still be the old you, until you are able to change you daily routines and habits. That means that falling off the preverbal wagon and making errors is going to be a reality. By mid-January you may not have stuck to your diet as planned or still be going to the gym. But it’s time to get up and keep having a crack at things, regardless of setbacks. The road to change is paved with setback, relapses, missed workouts and occasional junk food binges

5. Remember: You are still the old you, so love the old you

The reality is that nothing about the calendar moving from December to January automatically transforms you into a “new you”. You are the same old you, with the same habits, lifestyle and choices. Old you is going to have to gradually change these in order to become “new you”. This is going to take commitment to changing daily habits and routines, believing in yourself and practising self love. Believe in current you, because current you has carried you through life up until now and is actually pretty damn awesome. It is not January that will get you to your goals. January merely offers the opportunity for a dark, cold fresh winter slate to start putting intentions into action.

Many people find January a difficult month. It can feel like the days span out into an endless dark abyss until the long awaited pay day at the end of the month. But it needn’t be that way. January can be a replenishing time to reboot from the past year and the excesses of the festive season. A time to goal set and spring clean from bad habits.

Go easy on yourself. Nobody says you have to pull off a detox, weight loss, train for a half marathon and launch a new career, all before February.