Features | Realistic Aims for Real Results

A lot of us are pretty cynical about new years. Whether we’re drinking and partying the night away out on the town with our mates, or, in my case, vegging out on the couch watching Jools Holland’s Annual Hootenanny with the parents while snorting copious amounts of pringles, chocolate and Haribo, a lot of us inwardly grumble, “here we go again. Another repetition of the old cycle”. Others, inspired by the endless bombardment of diet, exercise and stop-smoking related adverts on telly, get all motivational and resolutiony, making binding covenants with ourselves to lose a stone a week and end up with that bikini-worthy beach bod by February.

Every New Years eve without fail, after I snort my “last ever” Thorntons Moment, I begin to make Winston Churchill-esque speeches to my loved ones about how I am going to make a dramatic transformation, turn my life around, and finally become that uber healthy, uber organised, uber perfect shadow of my former self that I’ve been making feeble grabs at, my whole short life.

But I have a blind spot that seems to block out the fact that my super-radical castles in the air ALWAYS come crashing down. Why? Because they’re unrealistic! When we try to revolutionise our lives so rapidly, the pressure we pile on ourselves to achieve these goals causes us to crash and burn, give up and go back to square one, as if we’d never tried in the first place. That’s probably why a lot of us don’t bother with the whole new years resolution thing after a certain point. But to these people I say, don’t give up so soon!

A new year isĀ  great opportunity to take stock of the past twelve months, enjoy remembering the stuff that went well and to be proud of your personal growth. It’s also good to look at areas you might want to approach the next phase. Having learnt the hard, and oh so frustrating way, that trying to achieve it all in one go is useless and detrimental to self confidence, I’m finally beginning to cotton on that the best way to approach new years resolutions is to take it one day at a time and set mini goals, making minor adjustments to your routine. Then at the end of each day, or week for that matter, you can be happy with whatever progress you’ve made, even if it’s only a little bit, or not as much as you would have liked.

I’m also learning that goals don’t always have to be set in stone. If they are, you’ll feel guilty, like you’ve let yourself down if you don’t keep your promises to yourself down to the last letter. Life is unpredictable and stuff is constantly changing at short notice. That’s why it’s helpful to set goals loosely and make them flexible, so you can adapt them to each day as it comes.

Even if you had a resolution a while ago but gave it up as a bad job, maybe now’s the time to try again! But this time, take a load off and don’t pull the plug if the “new you” is not as new as you’d have imagined. See the start of 2014 as a chance to approach life with fresh hope and enthusiasm.

What do you want your 2014 to look like?

Rebekah Billingham

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