For many the New Year creates an opportunity to reflect on the year that’s passed and plan the year ahead.

Some people launch themselves into the New Year with the best intentions and big plans about what they’d like to achieve. What often happens though is old habits sneak back in and within a few weeks the novelty has worn off and you’re back to square 1.

Why don’t New Year’s resolutions work?

The reason most people fail with resolutions is usually because the goal is too big coupled with a lack of support and a good plan! There’s nothing wrong with aiming high but the problem comes when progress is slow. With such a big target and no clear plan it’s only a matter of time until motivation wanes, the target seems unrealistic and self-sabotage patterns kick in. Don’t get me wrong, there are those who will stick to their target and achieve amazing things but for many they need a bit of help.

How to make lasting change – just 1% does it!

There are several keys to success when it comes to making change.

For many years I’ve worked with people helping them improve their health and wellbeing and what I’ve come to realise is, it’s the small changes over a period of time that have the biggest effect (the compound effect).

To really create a worthwhile change in your health and wellbeing, the compound effect is the way to go. Making small consistent changes over a long period of time will have a far greater effect than going at something full steam ahead for a short period of time.

No matter how small it is, it will have an effect so just get started.

Be realistic with your targets

As I mentioned, most people set themselves an overly ambitious target. If you’ve never run and decide to run a marathon then it’s going to take time.

The best thing is to break your goal down into smaller manageable chunks.

What’s also important is to allow for some flexibility in your targets. It’s all too easy to set yourself a pass or fail target. This is a fast track to becoming demotivated and quitting.

For example. Let’s say you want to get back to exercise. Most people say something like “I want to go to the gym 5 times a week”.

This is great, but what happens when you get held up at work or the cat needs taking to the vet. Life will always happen and you will miss days. Does that mean you’ve failed? Our natural instinct and mental pattern is usually to say “yes, I’ve failed”. You didn’t reach the target so you must have failed. But what about the 3 times you did go to the gym.

I always recommend setting a target as well as a minimum and a mind blower. So with the exercise example it could be as follows:

  • Minimum: 3 x a week
  • Target: 5 x a week
  • Mindblower: 6 x a week

So with this, you know that as long as you hit between 3 and 6 workouts a week you’re on track.

And you can turn this one on its head if you want to reduce something. Let’s say it’s caffeine in the form of coffee. Currently you drink 6 coffees a day. You could set yourself a target of only 3. You then set your minimum at 4 and your mindblower at 1. That way you’ve got control and don’t feel like it’s a game of all or nothing.

Reward yourself – don’t criticise yourself

We’ve all been there right? You get to the end of the day or week and you think “oh I didn’t achieve that” or “I could have done better”.

Really, how does that help us?

By having flexible goals / targets you can look back over your week and say “great, I achieved that” and maybe ask yourself “how can I improve on that”.

It’s all too easy to focus on the negatives so give yourself credit for what you’ve achieved and then reward yourself.

That doesn’t mean cake, that’s not how it works! Have some rewards in mind as to what you’ll do when you hit certain targets. Or if you’re more “stick” than “carrot” motivated what’s your penalty for not reaching the target?

Don’t take on too much at once!

Typically when people try and kick habits or change their lifestyle they do too many things at once. Again this leads to overwhelm and loss of motivation.

Certainly have a focus and by all means choose several things to work on over a period of time but start small and easy.

Choose the 1 thing that’s going to make the biggest difference and focus on that for a good few weeks. It takes around 3 weeks to change a habit so give yourself the time to work on something properly before taking on something new.

Get a buddy!

We all know things like this are easier if you’re working with someone else. Accountability is so valuable when it comes to making change in your life. Certainly for the people I work with this is a big part of what I offer. The number of my clients who come in and say “I’ve been really good with my water intake today as I knew you’d ask”.

So find someone you can work with; a friend, colleague or professional who will keep you motivated, focussed and on track.

And finally… a little something I heard from a personal trainer:

You don’t need motivation……. You need commitment!

So, good luck. Get clear on what you want to achieve, set sensible achievable targets and celebrate your successes.

Ian Stones

About Ian Stones

Ian is considered one of the UK’s leading fertility experts helping couples wishing to start a family.

In particular he supports men by identify key issues that may be affecting their ability to conceive then, through his unique system, helps them to improve their lifestyle, diet and overall health to maximise their fertility.

Through his close partnerships with the Agora Clinic, he seeks to improve the information and support available for men at all stages of fertility treatment.

If you’d like to have a chat and find out more then get in touch to book a free discovery consultation.

Ian Stones