Well hello there 2017! For me there is something wonderfully cathartic about starting a new year. I find that every New Year’s day is a great way to draw the line under a period of time. Especially this year. 2016 was in many ways my “annus horribilis” and I am ecstatic to get the chance to start a fresh. Each New Year brings a great opportunity to reflect on the past year, your habits and focus on setting new goals for self-improvement.
A new year is a fresh start but for me New Year’s resolutions have never really stood the test of time. Regardless of how great my intentions are, the truth is that as with many mere mortals life sometimes gets in the way. I often wonder why do people make new years resolutions? How many of you have had beautiful New Year’s resolutions and hoped that this year was going to different?
Realistically most resolutions fail at the first hurdle and don’t make it through to February let alone be sustained for the rest of that year or the next. For me making a change needs to come in the form of a new habit instead of a resolution. Making a habit is far more sustainable. It changes my thought process from “I would like to do this” to “this is going to be part of my daily life”. My goal can be long or short-term habit, but by making it an integral part of my daily routine = success.
I started off writing this post on New Year’s resolutions and new habits in the 2nd week of January and thought it was ironic that I had not dived in on the 1st January to start my new habits. It turns out I was not as slow to start as I thought – I promised myself that one of my new habits for 2017 was to give myself a real life holiday allowance and to actually use it. In 2016 I did not take a holiday where I completely switched off from the world of Fifi Friendly. I found myself on “holidays” and reviewing hotels, posting on Instagram and responding to emails …. say what? They were wonderful experiences but not allowing myself to fully switch off and restore …. and that was what I needed to do.
In my old job I lived for my 36 days holiday each year …. I had my time away from the office mapped out months in advance. I certainly did not take my work emails on holiday with me and I was not preparing for a presentation by the pool. A lot of 2016 I knew I needed break and in December I decided that I would not write while my kids were on holiday from school. I also promised myself that I would not actively go on social media as Fifi Friendly …. this last part was hard at first given the close connection between my work and personal life. To start with, I switched off my wi-fi on my phone during the day where possible. It is amazing how much less time you spend online when you are not getting pings and notifications every few minutes!
Two weeks on and my batteries are recharged and I am buzzing to get back to blog life. I have loads of ideas and came to “work” with great excitement this morning. I haven’t planned when my next blog holidays will be in 2017 yet, but that is in the diary to look at this week. So far I am loving this new habit. I can see the benefits of it. Today at my physio I noticed changes to. My neck and shoulders felt less tense. I am making changes to be my best this year, I am feeling refreshed and excited to see how the rest of my new habits will settle into my life. What changes are you wanting to make this year? Do you have a new habit that includes any of the following?
- less time on-line and more time being present
- eating more vegetables
- exercising more
- spending more time with positive people
- being thankful each day
- improving your posture
- meditating daily
- changing to a green beauty routine
- de-cluttering your personal space
- shopping locally
- driving less
- breathing more fully
- making more time for you
Whatever form your new habits take, if it is a big of little life change, I have found that if I make them part of my life and not just a nice add-on, then I am more likely to maintain them. Here are some of my top tips for sticking to your new habits.
- Plan ahead – I am growing to love making plans. Planning ahead before you make any change of routine helps to set your new habit up to succeed. Are you wanting to losing weight or change your diet? Before you start, clear all temptation from the cupboards and then continue plan ahead by writing out a weekly meal planner each Sunday. If you are trying to save money, don’t go shopping just for the sake of it and with a wallet full of cards, make a list of what you need and take the amount of cash required…. leave the cards at home. If daily meditation is part of your new routine, leaving it to chance will be so much less effective than blocking time out in the diary each day and making it a priority.
- Self monitor – There are apps for everything these days, but I like to find way to keep track of my progress – Making a simple tick box list or finding a way to log how I am getting on. On the days where my willpower to maintain my new habit is dipping, this gives me a boost and shows me how well I am doing. Don’t beat yourself up if you have an off day, but also don’t make excuses and allow let yourself get stuck in a rut. If I am having a series of off days then I want to work out why. Have I set an unrealistic goal? Be kind to yourself. Appreciate what is going well. Be thankful each day.
- Be Realistic and Specific – Is this the right time to mention that your habit has to be realistic? If you are looking to make a big change to your lifestyle like weight loss, stopping smoking, saving more money then know you will be more successful if you don’t tackle them all at once. The fewer habits your change or New Year’s resolutions you make, the more progress you will make in each area. How and achievable and clear is your goal? Instead of saying “I am going to do more more Pilates or running “, make the goal more specific by resolving to do 3 Pilates workouts each week or run every Tuesday.
- Set Reminders – I like to use my phone to set reminder alarms throughout the day. For example, another new habit of mine is involves improving my posture at my desk. To start with I have set a reminder alert every hour to take a moment and be aware how I are sitting. When I feel I am ready to level up, I will change this to every 2 hours.
- Reward yourself – I don’t respond too well if I don’t see some positive benefit to a change. Harsh, but true. Changes are so much easier if you have little rewards in your path …. and often. Your new habit can be rewarding in so many ways. A work colleague of mine was wanting to lose 1 lb a week, and she set time in her diary each month to go shopping for some new clothing each time she lost half a stone. Choose a reward that makes you feel good.
This year I am changing habits in a number of areas of my life, but all for the positive. Whilst I have been planning ahead for these changes I have noticed how several of them intertwine. 21st Century life chucks a lot of things at us daily and as wonderful a most of it is, I am looking to create more balance in my life this year. I am planning on being stricter with the amount of sleep I get each night. Our sleep patterns affect our health, our tiredness, our weight and our ability to manage stress. I will also be unplugging from the digital world earlier each night to allow my body time to switch off and get ready for a good night of sleep. By organising my week better and planning for work, exercise, food and time to be more mindful each day I will be more effective. Finally, I will be using every single last-minute of my holiday allowance and switching off while I am away. I can’t wait! Whether you call it a new habit or a New Year’s resolution …. I am ready.
Have you made any New Year’s resolutions this year? Let me know what habits you are changing this year. Have a wonderful 2017 people!