How to make meaningful New Year's resolutions… and stick to them!
Over the festive period, many of us will be reflecting on what we'd like to do differently in 2023. Whether it be finishing outstanding tasks and projects or making decisions about important life changes, the New Year is traditionally a time to give these matters some careful thought.
We might decide to make some New Year's resolutions. We'll set a goal to change jobs, do more exercise, and make positive changes to our lifestyles and we'll step into January feeling motivated and optimistic.
So why then, do so many of us find ourselves soon slipping back into old habits, backing out of making big decisions or putting off these changes until a later date?
There are many reasons and I have noticed that February and March tend to bring an influx of new clients, looking for a coach to help them refocus on their plans. People have started the new year brimful of good intentions but somehow, old habits and thought processes creep back in. Many people feel even worse after 'failing' at their resolutions and begin to feel hopeless and stuck.
What can we do to keep to our resolutions long term? Here are my top tips on how to make meaningful changes that stick in 2023:
1. Work out what matters to you about the changes you want to make. Not what society, friends or family tell you you should be doing but what you, personally, value. You can ask yourself "What benefits will this change bring to my life? What matters to me here?" Understanding your values in relation to the changes you seek will help to guide your actions and set goals that are meaningful to you.
2. Be prepared for your mind to resist attempts to make changes, particularly those that could involve the risk of failure (starting a healthy new habit, changing jobs, creating boundaries). It is normal and reasonable for our minds to want to protect us from harm.
Developing skills around noticing and naming when these thoughts are present, can help us recognise when protective thoughts might be getting in the way of us acting like the person we want to be.
3. When we notice difficult or unhelpful thoughts as we try to proceed with our changes, we can practice 'defusion' skills to help us to unhook from them.
Practice the 'Leaves on a stream' (https://cathyeden.co.uk/2022/12/13/leaves-on-a-stream/) exercise and see if you can allow those thoughts to just be there and then pass by in their own time.
4. Be specific about the changes you want to make and make a commitment to yourself to take action, in the knowledge that the direction you are taking matters to you.
5. Spend time with a coach. Compassionate, effective support in the form of coaching can make a huge difference if you want to make 2023 your best year yet.
Learn new ways to manage difficult thoughts and feelings that might be getting in the way and find structure, support and guidance to help you stay accountable and focused on the change you seek.
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