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Resolving the Fails of Resolutions

With the last of the Christmas snacks scoffed, we chime in another year. We all become a little guilty of overly criticising ourselves during these months. It’s dark, wet, cold and we’re near broke from festivities and yet it’s seemingly the annual, torturous tradition to fill our lives with huge gulps of pressure by setting resolutions that we must adhere to, or face a whole year as a failure.

This whole rigmarole started over 4000 years ago, when the Babylonians are thought to have been the first civilisation to make new year’s resolutions. Begs the question, what the hell happened to the Babylonians during that year?

Steve: It’s all gone tits up in Babylon this year Dave.

Dave: You’re right Steve. We’d best make some changes!

Steve: Well, why don’t we do it together? See who fails first?

Granted, that first couple of months in newly motivated Babylon must have been absolutely marvellous! People smiling, getting back out into the desert to get fit, learning new languages with their new stone tablets that they all had for Christmas… Of course, this debacle has since spanned many countries, cultures and religions where today, it’s the most common time of year globally, to set new challenges and goals for ourselves.

But at what point did the Babylonians start giving up? Because giving up resolutions seems equally as traditional as starting them and after 4000 years, we’re still putting ourselves through it. Why is that? Well, I believe it’s because humans are inherently hopeful and habitual creatures, who thrive off the anticipation of ‘what if’s’.

It says something to be hopeful enough to want to set yourself a goal at the darkest, coldest, most frugal time of year, doesn’t it? I, for one am sold on the idea annually. A chance to fail? Count me in!

I’m so invested in this ritual, that I’ve actually developed a strategy around resolutions and yes, I will share it with you!

So here’s my how to tactics on beating the new year’s resolution fails:

Set yourself two resolutions and make sure that they are linked in some way. The first one should be super easy to achieve and will be your short-term mood booster resolution. The second one will be your more challenging goal over a longer-term. For both, give yourself the ‘why’s’ for doing them. For example:

- Super Easy Resolution: Do more fun stuff. The pandemic meant that I wasn’t able to do much at all. I miss doing fun stuff and I need to do more of it.

- Challenging Resolution: Lose 20lbs. The pandemic meant I wasn’t as active and I gained 20lbs. I want to lose this.

These two are linked. Why link them? Well, when we set resolutions, they are sometimes, new, ‘out there’ ideas. Give yourself a couple of those bad boys and all of a sudden, you’re being pulled in multiple directions, making it more likely that you’ll become exhausted by them. Linking them tricks your brain into thinking that you’re dealing with the same thing all the time. Et voila – Two birds, one stone.

To go along with this fail-safe method, here are two added bonus tips:

- Use one as a reward for the other. So in this example, the more I lose, the more fun stuff I give myself to do.

- Don’t start on January 1st. Why? Because everyone does and who wants to be the same as everyone else? By starting either before the new year, or the few weeks after the new year, you’ll find yourself sneakily out of that new year pressure pot, because actually your goals are not set to that dreaded date.

You’ll be tightrope walking across a mountain whilst speaking French in no time. And if not… Well, there’s always next year!

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