Humans are an optimistic species!

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Happy New Year to you All!
Well January has arrived with chill winds and resolutions to change, made in the headiness of celebration, still on our lips. I have come to believe that human beings are generally an optimistic species, even counting the sceptics among us!
With the dawning of every new year people everywhere make promises to themselves, and others, to change their lives/activities/habits/attitudes etc etc
Some people, a minority I suspect, actually see their plans become a reality as they reach their goals. For the majority however, life gets in the way of their good resolutions and they often fall at the first hurdle, be it a bad day (‘where did I hide the chocolate/ wine??’), a more tempting offer (‘it’s a bargain…’) or a lack of motivation (I’ll go for that run tomorrow morning.. it’s too cold and dark today..).
Lifestyle changes are probably the most popular subject of New Year resolutions and the recent publicity for healthcare providers to encourage and enable their employees to be fitter and lead healthier lifestyles I am sure they will feature high on people’s lists this year.
Although the intention to change a lifestyle factor may be sound, all too often the purpose gets lost in the pace of modern living. So how can you increase your chances of success and reach your goals?
Well here are seven tried and tested tips to get you started……
• Tip1 – be really, really honest with yourself when setting your goals. Make sure they are realistic and achievable.
o Setting goals that are too big just sets you up for failure
• Tip 2 – plan to change only one thing at a time.
o Too many changes at once increase the chances of failure and make it easier to lose your focus. As a result you can feel overwhelmed and give up because it is too difficult. Remember you can always add a new goal as you progress.
• Tip 3 – plan changes in small steps and express these using positive language about what you will gain as a result of the change.
o For example, we talk about ‘losing weight’. This negative expression already makes us feel that we are being deprived of something and has a negative impact on our motivation to succeed. So instead of thinking about ‘losing weight’ express your goal in terms of how you want to be or look when you have reduced your weight e.g. being able to wear clothes one size smaller than you wear now.
• Tip 4 – keep a record of the change you are trying to make (do a series of ‘selfies’ for your eyes only until the final reveal perhaps?).
o This will be really helpful on those days when your motivation is low and temptation to give in is high. Your progress record and reflections will boost your confidence as you see how far you’ve come and help you to reassess your goals if progress is slow.
• Tip 5 – be realistic about the time it will take to make some changes.
o This is particularly important if the change relates to lifestyle changes or habits. Remember too that making the change a part of your life means you are more likely to succeed.
• Tip 6 – find a ‘buddy’ to support you.
o This can be someone who is making a similar change or someone to ‘talk you down’ from succumbing to that tempting bar of chocolate or glass of wine on those bad days!
• Tip 7 – set yourself milestones or mini-goals along the way and celebrate achieving each one.
o Any significant lifestyle change will take time and motivation is stimulated by reward. So don’t wait until you reach the ultimate goal as that could be a year away. Instead recognise your progress and celebrate each smaller success along the way … but not so much that you undo all your hard work! Think of rewards that compliment your new lifestyle and don’t reinforce the one you are working hard to change.

Best of luck and my best wishes for a fit and healthy 2015 until next time…..

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