Most new year’s resolutions are personal and related to doing more or less of something: exercise more, drink less, eat healthier, lose weight. This year there was one more topic on the top ten resolution list for 2020 which is not only inspired by the pursuit of our personal well-being, but for the greater good: become a vegetarian or even a vegan. It seems like the climate crises has entered our personal sphere at least in Basel, Switzerland, where more than a third of people in a survey said that becoming vegetarian or vegan was one of their main 5 objectives. According to a study of one of Germany’s largest health insurances 64% of Germans had a more climate friendly life style on top of their list.
I have been going through a lot of publications in order to find out what what we need to do to turn an objective into a successful accomplishment or a regular habit. At the end of each year the internet is full of articles on the topic. I wonder who finds the time to read those, to follow recommendations and to sit down and think about their objectives and then be ready in January to put everything in place. My friend Sarah Furuya runs a programme called “February is the new January”. This very appealing to me as I usually find the time thinking about the new year when it has already started. Like today. And what keeps you from choosing any other time of the year to make changes in your life? I usually change something in my life every time I move (and I move often). Every new environment brings new opportunities for a change. But what do we need to be successful in the long run?
Let’s start with the goal setting
Do you know what you actually want? Reflect on where you are at now in order to be able to decide where you want to go. Define what matters most to you and which sacrifices you will need to make in order to get there (as you can’t have your cake and eat it). Self-love and self-care should be at the centre of what you try to achieve. Anything you think you “should” do will probably not work out.
Make your goals action-oriented, measurable and attainable.
Be specific: exercise twice a week for 20 minutes, cook one new recipe per week, go to the cinema/theatre once a month, … and rather frame them in terms of habits and not goals.
“Habits, however are the thing that we control day to day – those are the actual things we influence. And habits are, over time, what get us the goal.” (Kris Gage)
It also helps to change perspective. If you think of yourself as someone with healthy eating habits, you don’t need to be on a diet that takes all the fun out of eating. If you enjoy your body moving and you feel your flexibility or stamina increasing, you are not a slave to your running or exercise schedule. The more you are able to see your endeavour as a lifelong journey rather than a short, mid, or long term goal, the more likely you are to succeed.
Whatever you plan to do more of or less of, make the preparation part of your plan. More exercising? Do you have everything you need like running shoes or a mat or the right app, the right space? You have to put thought into it before you start, so you don’t get frustrated. Build your own little support network by having your exercise clothes ready on the dresser or your mat rolled out before you go to bed. Less drinking? Move the content of your bar to the basement or give it away. Don’t shop wine just to have a bottle at home, only buy it when you have guests coming. Set an appointment early morning after a planned night out to make sure your drinking stays moderate. Changing your eating habits? Clear your kitchen space and your cooking books. Sort out and donate what you don’t need any more. Get a supply of the ingredients you need, get the basics ready, find the right app to support you and put healthy food and snacks like bowls with dried fruit and nuts within reach.
Take a look at the 25 Best Websites to help you stick to your New Year’s Resolution and you will find loads of pages and apps to support you.
And then you get started!
Did you notice that you are much more likely to stick to a plan if others are involved? You don’t want to let anyone down, do you? When we are accountable to something or someone outside of ourselves, our actions have a greater chance of taking place than when we are not. But who keeps us accountable for our new year’s resolutions? For those changes we only do for ourselves? Well, you are right, it’s on us!
Which means we have to be impeccable with our word and do what we say. This will increase our self-trust and our confidence every time we hold ourselves accountable. It is a very empowering process.
Think about your past history of success. What goals have you achieved and how? What accountability did you have? Who could be your support network now to help you hold yourself accountable? Who could you talk to about your goals? Who could you partner with? A running partner you cannot leave waiting at 7 am, a lunch partner you cannot leave hungry as it is your turn to prepare your healthy lunches, …
You are the only one who is accountable, but you can build your support network to be better at it!
Each time you do what you said you would do, take a moment to celebrate. Be proud of yourself and feel the empowerment. Find out what feels best as a reward for you and how you would like to track your success. Not everyone likes to tick off a box every day or week. Be creative in your rewards. A cup of tea and 15 minutes reading time is good for one person, a movie night for another one and a new nail polish for the next. And remember that everything you do is just for yourself and so are the rewards.
If you are close to Basel, join one of my attainable-goal-setting workshops in the coming weeks! Contact me for further information. I would love to see you thrive!