It’s a new list of New Year’s resolutions. All over the country, people are participating in the annual ritual of writing their New Year’s resolutions, full of turkey and pudding and raging optimism. This will definitely be the year when they 1 lose weight, 2 do more exercise, 3 eat more fruit, 4… and they mean it. In their mince pie-fuddled state, they truly believe that this year will be different.
But in the cold, grey fog of January, when they are back on the school run, queuing for the bus in the rain, struggling to get the washing dry, keeping the house tidy and paying the shocking post-seasonal credit card bill, eating five noble portions of fruit washed down with a freshly-blended fruit smoothie doesn’t seem anywhere near as appealing as dunking a double chic choc cookie in a full-fat latte with extra hazelnut syrup. Why do so many resolutions not make it even to the second Saturday in January? For several reasons…
Firstly, people are over-ambitious, setting themselves a huge goal without actually thinking about how achieveable it is. Think about it. No more takeaways – I’m going to cook everything from scratch. Well that’s fine in the unreality of the festive break but in the real world of January when there’s nothing in the fridge because you couldn’t get to the shop because you had to wait in all day for the washing machine repair to be done, much to the annoyance of your boss who thinks that a four-day Christmas holiday is ample time to arrange this, and Maria’s going out in half an hour “Well, I did tell you ages ago, mum” and Josh has brought a friend back for tea “What’s for dinner, mum? We’re starving.” and your other half has just texted to say he’ll be late because the train’s been cancelled…well, it’s just easier to send out for a takeaway pizza for the kids and get yourself a Chinese later. Then, feeling such a failure, you give up on this stupid celebrity-chef inspired, ridiculous idea and shove your pristine copy of Jamie Oliver’s Thirty Minute Meals into the bottom of the tea towel drawer.
Secondly, the resolutions are too big. They are the end result. What they should be are small steps on the way to the final grand plan. So instead of No more takeaways – I’m going to cook everything from scratch, think I’m going to cook one meal a week from scratch. Choose the time of the week that suits you best – after all, this is not a punishment – and create space to achieve your goal. That way, you’re setting yourself up to succeed and there’s nothing as motivating as success.
Finally, if things aren’t going to plan, don’t give up, alter your plans. Be adaptable, be flexible, be ready to modify your goals, making them bigger or smaller depending on how you’re getting on with them. Make notes of your successes and celebrate them, or think about why things might not be going as you wish and be ready to change or let go. Small, manageable chunks are the key. If you tried to eat a whole plate of food in one bite, you wouldn’t be able to do it and you certainly wouldn’t enjoy it, but by taking small mouthfuls and savouring each one, the plate will be clear in no time.
Now, where are my trainers, I’m off to run a marathon…well, I’m just going to take a quick stroll to Costabucks actually. Hazelnut syrup, double chic choc…mmmmm!