February 22, 2024

Already ditched your New Year's resolutions? Here's how to get back on track

Don't be tough on yourself, you can set yourself new intentions on any day of the year

Most of the time our New Year's resolutions and intentions involve changing some of our most ingrained habits — the things that we do without thinking. So it’s no wonder that before we are even aware of it, a pattern of unconscious day to day living resumes and we find ourselves pretty much back in the same place as we were before.

But it doesn’t have to be like this. We don't need to feel a sense of failure, or wait for the next 1st January to roll around. We have the choice to set intentions for ourselves, and our future, on any day of the year.

Here are some tips for setting realistic and achievable intentions, any day of the year

Plan carefully

Give yourself the time and space to think about what it is you really want vs what you think you should change, or do.

Often we set ourselves superficial resolutions and intentions, quick fixes which just scratch the surface of the real life changes we want to see, that matter most to us.

It can be tough to articulate the things that matter most to us and exactly what we want to spend more of our time doing. By giving ourselves permission to stop, we create space to ask important life questions:

  • What matters most to me?
  • How do I spend my time, and who do I spend it with?
  • What might a more meaningful life look like?

Plan how you are going to make things happen?

So, you now know what you want — to do more regular exercise, to eat well, to create more ‘me time’, to be more productive at work and finish earlier, to reconnect with friends or revisit an old hobby or passion, but how are you going to make it happen? What changes do you need to set in place that will enable you to get to where you want to be?

Be realistic, set daily manageable steps

We set ourselves up for failure by seeking unrealistic change — too much, too quickly. We then lose motivation, and stop pursuing our intention as it's too hard. Breaking your intention down into daily manageable steps can be really helpful. If you want to get fit and stay fit, plan to do daily exercises that fit around your day eg cycling or walking part of your journey to work, or going to the gym or for a swim in your lunch break.

Connect to the benefits of your intention

Write down three words that express what matters to you about your intention.

At the end of December, I set two intentions: To spend 30-minutes in nature on my 'online days' and to not to be on my phone before meditation and breakfast.

  • My three words for spending time in nature: alive, creative, restorative
  • My three words for not engaging with my electronic devices in the morning are: quality me-time, peace of mind, perspective
A woman perched peacefully on a fallen tree in a woodland with the sunlight peeking though the foliage in the background

Adopt a learning mindset

When you notice you’re not on track anymore, pause, and ask yourself: What’s happening, what do I need to do differently to get back on track?

This learning mindset is open, human, curious and kind compared to a failure mindset which is narrow, harsh and unkind, and can often make matters worse.

Review progress daily

By nature, we tend to focus on what we haven’t achieved and small victories can easily pass us by. Therefore it's important to acknowledge how things have gone, what worked well and what didn’t. Most importantly always celebrate when you have achieved something —this releases the hormone dopamine, also called the reward hormone which makes us feel good and will spur us on to do it again!

In my case, reviewing my daily achievements has been hugely helpful. I’ve found taking myself out on a walk in the park most enjoyable, restorative and regulating. But I have struggled to resist the urge to look at my phone first thing in the morning. It has become such a habit, albeit unhelpful and draining. On a few mornings I found myself, phone in hand, deliberating — do I look, don’t I? Each time I managed to put the phone down because I could remember why I set the intention and what it feels like to start the day peacefully. It felt great when I acknowledged my awareness to stay on track.

Reward yourself

Give yourself a reward after a month of having stayed on track. You could buy yourself a bunch of flowers, treat yourself to a massage or take yourself out into the countryside. Allow yourself something that feels good to you, after all — you've earned it!

A natural bouquet of British blossoms, taken inside, with a blurred table and chairs in the background

And lastly, always apply a positive mindset to your intentions

  • Be ardent — be wholehearted, enthusiastic and eager, apply passion and fire
  • Be resolute — be wholly committed and unwavering
  • Be diligent — be conscientious and thorough. It comes from the Latin root ‘diligentia’ meaning ‘to delight in’
  • Be mindful — bring an attitude of self-kindness and care, and be aware and awake to unhelpful negative thoughts such as: “I’m rubbish, I'll never be able to do this or that.".

And remember that life is an exploration. We only have one chance, so don’t let another year pass by without doing what matters most to you. Do something positive for yourself today.

Outdoor coaching is fundamental to my work

I offer coaching sessions in east London and on the south coast of England

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