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It's tough setting New Year's resolutions for 2021

Posted on 04 January 2021

January 1st is traditionally when we set resolutions for the year ahead. Common pledges are things like:

I’ll lose weight

I’ll give up smoking

I’ll pay off my debts

I’ll do more exercise

…and so on.

These are all great ambitions. But as many of us know from bitter experience, most of our good intentions end up falling by the wayside. Then we feel disappointed in ourselves and even less likely to make a change. “What’s the point?” we say. “I’ll only fail again.”

The problem is we set ourselves up for failure with this approach. It’s impossible to live up to the perfect version of yourself in your head - the kind of person who gets everything right, all the time – so we can’t help but fall short. Then we waste energy on self-criticism instead of looking at small but consistent changes that we stand a chance of achieving.

Annus horribilis

2020 has been tough on all of us. Being separated from family and friends, constant uncertainty, financial stress, worry about our health, our job, our children… it’s a lot to deal with.

This year of all years, it’s OK to cut yourself some slack. Rather than setting goals, and beating yourself up for not meeting them, remember that you’re doing great just as you are. 

If you have managed to make a positive change during 2020 – like getting more exercise, eating healthier, or taking control of your finances - then you should be really proud of yourself.

But if not, give yourself a pat on the back anyway. You’re still here and tomorrow is another day.

Be realistic

For those who would like to make a change in 2021, it’s helpful to break down your overall aims into smaller, achievable chunks.

For example, if you decide you’d like to lose weight, you could start with a few simple steps like:

  • I’ll go for a ten-minute walk on my lunch break
  • I’ll eat one extra portion of fruit or veg every day
  • I’ll meet up with a friend/family member for a walk or run on my day off

These might sound too small to make a difference, but it’s crucial to start with concrete tasks that feel doable. As you tick them off and your confidence builds, you’ll feel good about yourself and this makes it easier to tackle bigger challenges.

Also remember that consistency is key. It’s better to stick to a few realistic goals that you can continue over time, rather than a total lifestyle overhaul which gets abandoned when the novelty wears off. 

After the last 12 months, no one should be putting pressure on themselves with a long list of self-improvements. Make it easier on yourself by starting small, and over time these small changes will add up to big achievements.

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