Happy New Year everyone.
I’m never sure where I stand on New Year’s resolutions. In one moment I think; why wait until the New Year to make a change? Then the next I think, it’s a great time to reflect and evaluate. You can look back at the year gone, recognise what you have achieved and set new goals for the year ahead. I guess the problem with New Year’s resolutions is the disappointment they bring when you don’t stick to them. The bitter taste of failure is hard to forget. I have had mixed success in the past with resolutions, some have fizzled out, been forgotten by the 3rd of January, or ended in spectacular defeat. Take for example the year I decided to give up ‘picking’ (at food not my nose). This lasted until about the 3rd January, and the first time I found myself nibbling at ham from the fridge, I gave it up as a bad job. However other resolutions have changed my life in a really positive way.
At the start of 2012 my New Year’s resolution was to shop at more independent stores. At the time I had a lot of friends starting up companies, and watching their struggle to compete with bigger brands made me realise the importance of supporting local businesses. I decided from that moment on I would avoid all chain stores. Less than a week in to January some girly friends suggested a shopping trip to hit the sales. I was not so reluctantly dragged into all my favourite high street stores, but I stayed strong and didn’t buy anything. Then after a few hours hard shopping we found ourselves outside a Starbucks, and the general consensus was to take advantage of the last opportunity for one of their festive drinks.
Immediately I panicked at the thought of breaking my resolution so soon. I considered suggesting we find somewhere independent, but knew they were not going to be lured away from the promise of a toffee nut latte less than 10 feet from where we stood. I contemplated not having a drink, but knew that would make others feel awkward, and to be honest; I really did need a coffee! So I stayed quiet and enjoyed a coffee with the girls. I could easily have called it a failure and given in on the whole idea right then, but instead I made a promise to find a nice independent café in town for the next time I was out shopping.
I went home and reassessed my resolution and how achievable it was. I decided to change it, and started with the small goal of using a local butcher and green grocer, and to choose more independent cafes and restaurants when possible. I asked friends and family for recommendations, and tried out a few local places. I soon found a butchers I loved, the meat was so much better quality than the supermarket and I was really surprised when they remembered me the next time I went in. I got a fruit and veg box from a local green grocer, and asked if they would mind making a few substitutions, like sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes. They were so accommodating, and it worked out so much cheaper than going to the supermarket.
By shopping local I started to learn what was in season when, and enjoyed foods at their best and cheapest. I experimented with new fruits and veggies and got loads of tips and suggestions on how to prepare them. My food bill almost halved by using local shops for meat, fish, fruit and veg. I still pop in to supermarkets occasionally to get cupboard staples but now use local suppliers and businesses whenever possible.
Without doubt my 2012 resolution to use more local suppliers has hugely influenced my life for the better- and to think, I nearly gave it up at the first hurdle.
So based on my good and bad experiences of New Year resolutions I have put together some top tips for helping you make sure you see yours through in 2015.
- Make it realistic by making a plan.
Pledging to hit the gym 5 times a week when you already struggle to go once a fortnight is not realistic. Consider how much free time you have, look at your weekly commitments and think where and how you could fit in some extra activity. Schedule the extra session in your diary and you will be more likely to commit. If you are planning to change your diet, then think what areas could be easily improved. If you are always missing breakfast or grabbing stuff on the go, then why not make your resolution to have a healthy breakfast every day. Plan what you will have each day, plan a shopping list and plan when you will go get everything you need.
- Focus on one thing at a time.
Promising yourself to give up booze, chocolate and carbs whilst learning Spanish and spending more time with family is never going to happen and lining yourself up for failure in at least one area. Make one realistic, simple goal and focus on that. If you are finding it easier than you thought you can always step up your game and add new challenges later on. Better to be improving on one simple goal than failing at lots.
- Make it fun.
Way too often we make New Year’s resolution based on restricting, depriving, cutting back or forcing ourselves to do things we really don’t want to. But there is nothing wrong with setting yourself a goal that you might actually enjoy. One year I made the resolution to try a different type of gin every month- that was a fun year. Even if you want to make a resolution to improve your health or lose weight, then finding a way to make it fun will help you stick to it. Wanting to get more active? Why not look up fun classes in your area: ever tried hooping or pole fit? Or why not team up with a friend, and switch out your usual meeting over coffee for a long walk whilst you put the world to rights.
- Don’t be afraid to change your plan.
Don’t think of it as a definite change from this moment forward, but the start of some trial and error. If you are struggling to stick to your resolution then maybe it just needs tweaking to make it more realistic Just as I did with my resolution to use local suppliers. I soon realised I couldn’t avoid chain stores altogether, but rather than give in I changed the plan and made it more simple.If you find yourself struggling maybe return to your plan, does it need to be changed, or your goal adjusted slightly.
- Remember you’re not defeated when you fail, you are defeated when you quit.
Don’t give in at the first sign of failure. Missed one of the gym sessions you planned in, or forgot to get the shopping for your healthy breakfasts? So what! Don’t write off all your hard work to that point at the first mistake, and don’t beat yourself up about it. Put it behind you and move on.
Good luck to all of you sticking to your resolutions in 2015. I wish each of you a year filled with health and happiness.
What’s your 2015 New Year’s resolution? And what’s your plan to make sure you succeed?