Today is the first of January and many of us have decided about their resolutions for 2023, or are about to do so. The new year brings the desire for a change, the need for renewal. We would like to spend more time with our family, to take that trip that we have been dreaming about for so long, to change our job, to enrol in a gym club, to lose weight, to stop smoking…the main goal is feeling better with ourselves and with others.

Why does it happen then that along the way we forget about our resolutions or we abandon them?

Here are some questions you should ask yourself.

Are your resolutions too ambitious, vague or simply they are too many? In this case you are putting too much pressure on yourself. If you have decided to stop smoking or to lose 10 kilos, you must ask yourself why you have started smoking and why you are always hungry. Are they ways for relieving the daily tensions?

Are you positive in comparison to the achievement of your resolutions? If you think that you will never make it, it is sure that you will never make it. Henry Ford used to say: “If you believe you can make it or if you believe you cannot make it, you will always be right”.

Are your resolutions appealing? You have decided to lose weight or to stop smoking. As such, they are great objectives. But find a bigger reason for which you want to achieve these objectives. For instance, you want to stop smoking to be able to recover breath faster when you go jogging or you want to lose weight to put on those beautiful pants that suited you very well.

Bad habits are difficult to lose, above all you need time. If you have been sticking to them for years, you have your good reasons (to protect yourself from stress, for example). You cannot change your habits in some weeks. Some time ago, studies stated that you could take up a new habit in 21 days. Now, neuroscience has found out that you need at least 60 days! Take your time then, establish a new habit with calmness, don’t stretch your body too far, your body is comfortably used to the old habit and it doesn’t feel like changing it. You must make it understand, day after day, that another way is possible and it is also healthier!

Besides, remember that the path won’t always be linear and you may find obstacles. There will be some easy moments and some difficult ones but losing a battle doesn’t mean losing the war. Accept the ups and downs: your body will learn to adapt slowly.

Choose an objective that won’t sound like an obligation, in the sense that it must represent a real choice, a thing that you want to do, not that you must do. Control your thoughts, remember what Henry Ford said. Don’t focus on what you still have to achieve, but celebrate what you have already achieved. List the small victories and congratulate yourself. Stay positive!

Think about the strength that a seed has to become grass. It must come out from the soil to be able to live and flourish. It works slowly under the soil, up to when one day it comes out and sees the light! For you it is kind of the same thing. Work slowly and one day you will see the results, because you are stronger than you think.

And now four tips:

1. set one objective at the time, but define it well, use the SMART model (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound). Even though this model has been created for organisations, it may be helpful also to individuals engaged in goal setting.

2. Adopt the strategy of small steps by dividing your objective into smaller objectives.

3. Celebrate achievements: the first kilo you have lost, the first whole day without smoking. Put some post-it all over your place with your success on it. Tell yourself “Well done!”.

4. Inform your family and friends about your goals and ask them to help you with this. Getting their support will help you in achieving the results. Look for some groups on Facebook that share your same goals, and participate in forums on the Internet. Remember that you are not alone, there are other thousands of people that may have your same goals and exchanging ideas with them can be helpful to you. You can create a blog that can become your journal (a journal on paper is also okay).

I wish you a successful 2023!

Photo by Cristiana Branchini