The arrival of the New Year is a time of hope for many of us. As the countdown to midnight gets nearer, we begin to dream of how this new beginning will bring out the best in us. In 2017, we will be bold and beautiful, waking up at 5.30 to go for a 5K run before work, followed by a kale smoothie before we arrive at the office ready to hit that productivity button. A few days into January however, we find ourselves choosing the duvet over running shoes, more and more often, and kale begins to be replaced by our favourite vanilla latte as we’re rushing to the office.
Luckily, we have found a few ways in which you can ACTUALLY succeed at your New Year’s Resolutions this year.
1. Create your change project
Last year, in my pursuit of inspiring reads on happiness, I came across “The Happiness Project” by Gretchen Rubin. In this book the author describes how she divided the year into 12 mini-projects, with each month focused on a different area of happiness.
In turning her resolutions into a 12-month project, the author managed to tackle an ill-defined resolution “I want to be happy” into clear and achievable habits. The research shows that it takes a minimum of 21 days to create a habit; a reason why, in our Emotional Intelligence courses, we use a 21-day Habit Change exercise to help our clients reach their goals.
2. Be you
Another thing I learnt from Gretchen was her 12 commandments, or overarching principles she wanted to live her life by. The first one of which was” Be Gretchen.”
When deciding on changes we want to make in our lives, we often start from the position of our ideal selves, which can lead to us taking on habits and hobbies that we think would be good for us but perhaps are not true to who we really are.
Are you taking that Hot Bikram Yoga class because it’s a cool thing to do or because you feel that deep down this is what you really want and need right now? Is your resolution to spend every weekend socializing compatible with your personality type?
To succeed at our goals, we need to be really committed to achieving them and if we are working towards something that is not right for our true selves, we will quickly lose motivation. Therefore, it is worth thinking about your personality and your true self, when verifying whether a certain goal or habit is right for you.
3. Remember – less is more
According to Miller’s law, most people can hold between three to seven items in their working memory. You can apply that 5+/-2 rule to your resolutions. When choosing what habits you want to change, remember that, for our brain, less is more. In other words, we are more likely to succeed when we introduce fewer goals and changes that we can really commit to doing every day, rather than setting out on a quest to change 10 things at the same time.
4. Coach yourself to success.
As a coach, I know that my clients already have all the answers to their questions, they may just need a few right questions to help them tap into those resources.
Ask yourself: “on a scale from 1 to 10, how happy am I about my life right now?” You can substitute “life” with anything that is of interest to you: relationships, health, energy etc. If your answer was 6, ask yourself how can you make it a 7. What would you do in this area of your life, if nothing was stopping you?
Apply the GROW model to your resolution planning – what is your goal? How does that compare to your current reality? What obstacles are you facing and what options are there? What does the way forward look like?
You can also choose to seek professional coaching to help you become the best version of yourself in 2017.
5. Do a needs check
For those still struggling to choose the area of life they want to focus on, you may find doing a quick needs check useful. In his brilliant book, leading EI expert Jolyon Maddocks outlines the set of the basic human emotional needs identified by Human Givens Institute.
Looking at that list, you can ask yourself to what extent your needs for Security, Emotional connection, Control, Community and Status, Privacy, Achievement, Attention and Meaning and Purpose to Life are being met. Choose the area with the greatest deficit and think about actions you can take to improve it.
Anna Czaplewska-Jaffery is a Senior Product and Training Consultant at JCA Global – to find out more about JCA’s Emotional Intelligence courses, please visit www.jcaglobal.com/training/emotional-intelligence-accreditation