Have your New Year’s resolutions for 2015 fallen victim to abandonment with the arrival of February? Not all is lost… Life coach Claire Sims-Craddock explains how achieving your New Year’s resolutions is still very much achievable and even easier than you might think…
Losing weight, spending less, stopping smoking, getting fit, eating more healthily, finding a new job, travelling to a new country – do any of these popular New Year’s resolutions sound familiar to you? If so, how are they going so far? Did you start enthusiastically hitting the treadmill/steaming broccoli/devising a savings plan but then find yourself accidentally-on-purpose misplacing your running shoes/eating a large tub of Haagen Dazs/buying an expensive luxury you don’t need?
If you did, you’re not alone. Many New Year’s resolutions are abandoned within a matter of weeks or even days as their creators slip back into their old ways, berating themselves and their lack of willpower.
Consider this instead – how about not only making a resolution but also making it such an integral part of your existence that you really live it – not just for the next few months but into the years ahead? Because you can! You have the ability and everything you need to start living your dreams right now. Your greatest asset is your brain – it has trillions of neurological connections and creates new neural pathways which mean you can learn new behaviors and great habits that will literally change your life.
As a life coach, I have the wonderful job of helping people achieve their goals. Life coaching is a fun, motivational, practical and effective way of enabling you to better understand how your mind works, to clarify what is important to you and create the life of your dreams, overcoming any perceived challenges in the process.
Here are some simple steps to help you achieve your resolutions:
- Firstly reflect on all the key areas in your life – health, relationships, career, finances, spirituality, emotions, activities and interests and personal growth. Ask yourself which areas are most important to you and how satisfied you are with them right now. Consider if your resolutions will create the desired positive changes and what it would mean to you to experience greater fulfillment in these areas.
- Why you want to achieve your goal? Be really honest. With weight loss, if it’s just to fit back into your favorite trousers, will this provide enough motivation to do what’s needed to get there? Find really compelling reasons – how about waking up with more energy, enjoying new sports, having a healthy heart? Or if you want to save more money, is it just because it seems like a sensible idea or is it because you want to retire earlier or travel around the world for a year? Exciting and inspiring reasons will provide the motivational fuel to keep you heading towards your goals. Your reasons must be meaningful to you – if you’re only trying to please others or fulfill their dreams and values, then you are chasing goals which might not be right for you or make you happy.
- Be playful with your goals and have fun! They shouldn’t be just another item on your ‘To Do’ list – they should inspire, motivate and excite you. Create a vision board of your goals and put it somewhere prominent to motivate you and track your progress. Inspirational quotes, pictures and ideas combined with small daily steps towards your goals will add up into something much bigger and more exciting than you ever dreamed.
- Make your goals specific and set time frames – instead of ‘Learning a new language’ plan to ‘Attend one Spanish class per week and listen to Spanish language DVDs twice a week’. Then link this to the reason behind your goal ‘So I can talk to locals when I visit Barcelona in July’ to provide a real incentive to keep up the classes! Remember you can set goals whenever and as often as you like, so think about what you’d love to do then work towards it with specific short, medium or long-term goals. So if you want to change careers for example, you could take two months to figure out what you want to do, plan to leave your job in six months, and gain the necessary skills to start work in your new career in two years.
- Ensure that your goals are achievable and take manageable steps towards them. If you live a very sedentary life then planning to run a marathon next month is not a realistic or advisable aim and you will probably feel defeated before you even start. Instead, plan to run next year’s marathon and build up your fitness gradually and sustainably. Through these small steps you will build your confidence and generate more energy to propel you towards your goal.
- Einstein, the great physicist, said “We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them” and he was absolutely right. Your thoughts are the first step in the process of creating your reality. They trigger your feelings and emotional state, which greatly influence your behavior which creates the outcomes in your life. The outcomes then feed back into your thinking and the cycle continues, so if you want different results, start by examining your thinking – what is your self-talk like? Take for example losing weight – the number one resolution – is there a little voice in your head saying “You’ll never do it, exercise is boring, being overweight is in your genes…” The more this loop plays in your head the more it will become a belief, and beliefs can powerfully and unconsciously guide our behavior and therefore become self-fulfilling prophecies. This unhelpful voice will also result in a low and unmotivated state, making it much harder to make healthy decisions which will benefit your future self. So consider your thought patterns and beliefs in the area of your life that you want to improve and see if they are helping you or holding you back. Replace any that are hindering you with those you would rather have, phrased in a positive present tense such as ‘I choose to enjoy an active life and delicious nutritious food’. Much more uplifting! Now live by your new belief.
- Focus on any new behaviors that you want to adopt and make adjustments to your daily routine to support them. The adjustments don’t need to be radical, they need to be achievable and sustainable so that you can keep repeating the new behavior, allowing your brain to create those new pathways to make this behavior a desirable habit. So if you want to be more caring then start by incorporating more random acts of kindness in your day and looking for opportunities to help people. Or if you want to become fitter, take a 30-minute walk in your lunch hour and use stairs instead of elevators.
- Pleasure and reward are powerful incentives for keeping on track. So for example make exercise something you enjoy – perhaps do a yoga course, try paddle boarding or take golf lessons. Do it with friends to make it more sociable and fun and to keep each other motivated – you’re less likely to forgo fitness if a friend has paid to do those surfing lessons with you! Follow your new behavior with a reward (one that supports not undoes your good work!) such as meeting friends for a catch up over a healthy lunch.
- So you’ve had a bad day and feel like giving up? Instead of being angry with yourself, show yourself kindness, forgiveness and self-love – these are key ingredients to happiness and achieving your goals. Loving yourself means accepting yourself as you are now unconditionally, not only once you’ve lost 20 pounds or got a promotion. Make the decision to do that now – everything starts with a decision. Then get right back on your path to achieving your dreams and simply keep going!
- You are the creator of your life, no one else. Take responsibility for the choices you make and choose to be happy right now – don’t wait until you have achieved your goals. Feel gratitude for everything in your life – this will help to create a happy and positive attitude which will boost your motivation and allow you to enjoy the journey, which after all, is what life is all about!
To find out more about life coaching and to enjoy your first session for free, contact qualified life coach Claire Sims-Craddock at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 00 971 503 589 704.