Every year, when we reach New Year’s Eve, something starts which makes me shudder – people make ‘New Year’s Resolutions’. Someone who only drives everywhere and spends their whole day sat at a desk or on the sofa will suddenly declare they will, from January 1, be ‘going to the gym every day’; The person who has a McDonalds for lunch no-less than several times a week will vow themselves to a life of absolute vegetarianism from the moment the clock strikes midnight for the New Year.
I’m afraid I don’t buy in to this ‘New Year, New You’ thing. The ‘examples’ I have given are perhaps a tad extreme yet the rise in gym subscriptions in January probably prove it more true than it might seem. By setting oneself such an exaggerated target is immediately setting out to fail. It would be like me announcing I will stop drinking tea – it’s not really going to happen is it because, deep down, I would not be bought in to it!
People striving to change and make their lives better / happier / healthier is a great thing and is something that I absolutely buy-in to. If I have a relative or friend who wants to make a change in their life, I will whole-heartedly support them. However, it has to be something which is manageable and which that person is truly invested in. It also doesn’t need a New Year to arrive for it to happen.
In fact, New Year is perhaps the worst time to try and make life altering changes. The ‘time to think’ afforded by the relaxed nature of Christmas makes it easier to idealise life and forget the realities that will hit in January. I won’t deny, I have thoughts of that nature myself when I have switched off for Christmas and I am enjoying the extra spare time. So far this holiday I have considered baking more, cooking more exciting meals, overhauling my training regime and doing more reading. Yet, I didn’t get a time machine for Christmas so when I get back to work next week, the old routine will kick-in.
To make a change and make it stick means you need to be very clear about what you want to change and why; That last point is crucial – if it’s not for the right reason then it won’t come to pass! Then make the target achievable and set lots of staged targets on the way (e.g. go to the gym twice a week for the first month, then three-times-a-week in the second month etc.) so that the change is more subtle and easier to adapt to. Finally, pick the right time of year – for me, there is nothing like a bit of Spring sunshine to encourage me to reform!