New Year’s resolutions in a different light.

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Here we go again. New Year’s resolution time. For the next two months it will be impossible to book my regular once a week {or so cough, cough} pilates class or take a quiet stroll through a park not swarming with bodies clad in shimmering trainers and shop-smelling dri-fit sportswear doing push-ups boot camp style. Self-help books will be taking prime shelf positions and magazines will offer sensational weight loss in less than 6 days, while upholding a substantial daily chocolate and chips intake. Yes, it is all about a New Year and a New {and much improved} You.

Oh please, whatever you do, don’t buy into it. It has already been proven a million times over that the majority of New Year’s resolutions fail. And there are plenty of valid reasons; setting unrealistic goals, fading motivation as novelty wears off and the fact that we don’t have unlimited willpower. {some interesting new insights about how willpower works can be found here}.

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Now, don’t get me wrong. If you are keen to make some changes in your life, I’m all for it. After all I’m a Life coach – it is what I do for a living! I just object strongly to the notion that we need to be “improved” versions of ourselves. Let’s just agree to be ourselves, ok? I may want to lose 10 pounds in the New Year, but it does not require me to change who I am. Is a change of habits required, yes absolutely, but I don’t need to change ME. Likewise I may wish for more quality time with my children in the New Year. Does that require me to “improve” my personality? I think not.  A review of my values, a different way of prioritising and some planning would most likely do the job. Do you see what I am getting at? We are all good enough as we are. We may want to change something, but we don’t need improving.

With that firmly established {I expect nodding here}, let’s now have a look at what could be useful to think about when creating changes for yourself:

  1. Consider first how important your goal REALLY is to you? How would you rate it on a scale from 1-10? Is pursuing this goal worth the time, money and effort that it requires?
  2. If you have established that your goal is important to you and worth the time, money or effort, break it into manageable steps.  What do you want to commit to or achieve in week 1, week 2 or by March etc. Be as specific as possible and contemplate what is realistic for you?
  3. Ask yourself what will be different when you have achieved your goal? If your goal for example is to be more organised, the answer might be something like “the house would be a nicer place to be in” or “it saves me time”. Then ask yourself what that will do for you. Your answer could be “I will feel better” or “I will have less stress in my life”.  Next ask yourself what “feeling better” or “having less stress” will do for you. Keep going in this way. It clarifies what really is at stake and builds your motivation.
  4. Initially the novelty of having a goal may be enough to motivate you, but it is always very useful to plan some structures that will help you to keep going over time. Involving a friend, creating rituals or using a track sheet are all structures that will support you. Working with a coach is another. If you would like to learn more about how coaching can work for mums, the blog will soon be featuring a “coaching diary” written by Madeleine. Madeleine is a lovely client of mine, mum of two girls, who not only decided to get some support to create and accelerate important changes she wanted in her life, she also found it important to share her journey with other mums. Keep an eye out for Madeleine’s diary. It is very touching.
  5. When it comes to making change happen, remember that change is incremental. It builds up over time. So if you “slip”, don’t despair. Stop telling yourself that it has to be 100% or you have failed. Instead tell yourself that even 5% is better than 0%.

If you are somehow keen to make changes in your life in the New Year, but either feeling overwhelmed by an wide-ranging long list or simply unsure what specifically you want to change, I recommend having a look at this simple tool called the life balance wheel.

May we all have great fun and lots of success with our 2013 goals.

{This post will be featured on Surreymummy in January}

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