We’re exactly two weeks into January today, and with 2019 well in its stride, it’s around the time that New Year’s resolutions begin to break. As each year comes to its end, we promise to tackle habits, accomplish goals, and become better versions of ourselves, whether it’s dieting plans, saving money, learning new skills or reading more books. Thing is, most of us fail before we even reach February. According to U.S. News & World Report, that’s a whopping 80% of the population.
Overwhelmed by temptations, we bypass unrealistic goals, and our lack of self-control, to quit before the year has truly begun. This ends with us indulging in sneaky snacks, making excuses to avoid workouts, or blaming tiredness for skipping trips away. A simple copout would be to blame the Babylonians for starting the trend 4000 years ago. However, we’ve got a better idea for you!
Whether you’re sticking with your resolutions or are on the brink of giving in… there’s no shame in it… we’ve some realistic advice to help you get back on track, turn those mountains into molehills and succeed in 2019.
Make Realistic Goals
Easier said than done, right? Hardly. One of the reasons resolutions go down the proverbial pan is that people often set themselves crazy targets. Weight watchers turn to dangerous dieting in an attempt to lose their Christmas gains by February. Smokers go cold turkey, ignoring 20 years of habit and addiction. Okay, sure, these are extreme cases, but creating realistic goals is more like saying taking baby steps. Dieters could create a balanced meal plan, add more greens or eat smaller portions. While smokers might wean themselves onto a vape or chew gum designed to help them quit smoking. It’s the little things that matter, not gigantic steps. When goals are achievable, you’re less likely to quit.
Make Goals Relevant
Take time to think about your life before placing your resolutions into baskets on a whim. Who are you, what do you want to achieve, and where do you want to be? Think about the past year. What did you achieve or what would you like to attain that you didn’t in 2018? With a picture in mind, your goals will become relevant to what you really want, not what you think you need. For example, simply wanting a promotion at work is a resolution doomed to fail. It’s too broad. Think about why you want this promotion and create relevant (and realistic) goals to obtain it. It might mean going the extra mile or using XYZ to boost ABC. Either way, that’s a goal that’ll likely get you closer to that promotion.
Stop Comparing Your Progress to Others
Seriously, just stop! When has that ever worked in your favour? We’ll tell you… never, even when you win! It doesn’t matter that your aunt June has already raised over £1,000 for charity in two weeks. It’s irrelevant that your cousin is now Vegan or that your co-worker has a new BMW sitting in the garage. What matters is your progress. Like we said above; by taking small, realistic and relevant steps, you’re already making fabulous progress. As soon as you start comparing yourself to others, you set yourself up for doubt - a recipe for disaster. To avoid comparison, you might deactivate your social media. Too extreme? Then become aware of any triggers and ignore them. If you can’t ignore them then use them to your advantage to spur you on in moments when you’re thinking about giving in.
Surround Yourself with Inspiring People
It’s estimated that 40% of us make resolutions every year. According to John Norcross of the University of Scranton, only 8% of those achieve their target. And we’re guessing one of the reasons is because they surround themselves with winners, optimistic types, and people sharing similar goals. Much like new students enrolling here at Oxbridge. They join a network of teachers and advisers who offer personal support, mentorship and friendship right up until they graduate. By surrounding yourself with the right people: experts, coaches, and inspiring and caring types, there’s little room for doubt. This is because the right people care about your wellbeing and want you to success. Thus, that space once filled with doubt is now filled with positive energy that promotes self-belief and a can-do attitude.
Visualise Your Prize
You’ve set yourself a doable target, now visualise yourself reaching it. What steps are you taking? If they seem hard, how can you make them easier? To stay motivated, keep the end goal in mind. Better yet, think of the prize. What does it look like? How will it change your life for the better? Start with small to stay victorious. If your goal is to learn Spanish, then join a class, make Spanish friends, download an app, take it slow, learn in bitesize chunks, practice. Keep that prize in your mind and what it’ll enable you to do or be. Spanish, for example, may open new opportunities, create a fuller person, or allow you to understand the language in more cultural areas of Spanish speaking countries.
Granted, you want an accessible task, but not one you can breeze. By setting mini-challenges and pushing yourself, you’ll find more satisfaction in what you’ve accomplished when you’ve completed and earned your goal. While a challenge inside a challenge may seem hard, it’s can be fun. In relation to your goals, you might start a new hobby, attend seminars and workshops, invest time in meeting likeminded people, or even blog about your experiences. Invent challenges to keep things interesting. This stops you from dillydallying, keeps you on the ball, and will boost engagement levels. With increased engagement, you’ll flourish, keep a keen mindset, and dedication to your task.
Listen to Your Gut
Some of the best advice I can offer is to ‘listen to your gut’. You can read a million advice columns, blogs or articles, but deep down only you know when something’s right… or when you’re cheating or doing something wrong. For example, say you’re dieting. You’ve been eating variations of lettuce, chicken and rice for two weeks. So, to treat yourself, you sneak some Roses in when no one’s looking. They taste great, but your gut feeling is saying otherwise. It’s wiser than you think. If nothing else, who knows more about you and your needs than you yourself? Oh, and if other people start questioning your motives, don’t listen to them. If doing it your way is safe and helps, then do it!
Track Your Progress
Resolutions aren’t just for a day; some are for life. In the beginning, keeping self-discipline can be a harsh mistress. That’s why tracking your progress is essential. Start by accepting where you are right now. Write it down so you’ve a start point. Now, chart your journey. Say you’re aiming for an A* in A-level English to get into university. To get there, you need to read and understand novels, write analytical assignments, and perform engaging presentations. Your mind map might look like this:
Of course, it's important to include time limits and engage in microlearning - the breaking down of tasks into bitesize chunks. Microlearning has proven to increase learning efficiency by 17% and engagement by 50%. So, instead of binging Shakespeare, plan your time, hold yourself accountable and reward yourself when passing milestones.
Being Mindful in Everyday Life
Hands up if you were one of the 92% of people giving up on their resolutions? That’s okay. As we’ve mentioned, sometimes we need to be realistic about the results we’re after. In other cases, it’s about being mindful of how we approach situations. Being self-aware and knowing who you are and what you want right now is a powerful catalyst to greater things. This relates to everything you do and the people you touch. Imagine knowing exactly who you are in the present and being able to make the right choices without stress, judgement or over-analysing every angle. When using mindfulness methods, you can train about any brain to think positively. Meaning you’ll never lack the motivation to achieve your goals because you’ll have made conscious thought before undertaking them. Why not have a posy at our Mindfulness course, which’ll help you take better control of your actions in the present.
Pushing forward in 2019
What does your year currently look like? If you’re on a quest to create a better version of yourself this year, we can help you reach your goal. At Oxbridge, we’re dedicated to lifelong learning, sticking to goals and making bright futures shine brighter. If you’re thinking about learning a new skill, we’ve 200+ certified and thought-provoking courses to help you reach your goals.