So, you’ve already broken your new year’s resolution…

Before you sack it off altogether, consider what these experts have to say.

With the hangover of that NYE bender now a distant memory, it’s around this time of year that talk of resolutions starts to fade away like a dying candle. After weeks of excess, it feels like no better time to shake ourselves off and swear blind that we’ll curb our bad habits. Wide-eyed, we vow to give up the booze and fags, eat less crap and finally start Couch to 5k.

But by the middle of the month, your mate who swore he’d quit the vapes starts having a few tokes of someone else’s just when I go out”. Those promises of dry January can be found at the bottom of a pint glass and the running shoes that cost a pretty penny have already collected a layer of dust. By February, we’re back to our usual bullshit.

So what should you do if you’ve scuffed your new year’s resolution? According to the experts below, here are some of the best ways to approach having another crack at it – rather than binning it off altogether. No one likes a quitter, after all.

It might be a new year, but it’s not a new you

According to workplace psychologist Dr Audrey Tang, the first thing you need to do is forget the new year, new me” mentality. It’s setting you up to fail. It tends to mean people focus on the outcome,” she tells THE FACE. They may think – albeit subconsciously – that they can suddenly become a new person’ overnight, which can result in too many changes trying to be made and becomes overwhelming.” So, maybe it’s best to think of just one thing that is important to you and build on that in a gradual way.

Examine why you’re setting these goals

Rebecca Anderson, a clinical psychologist, thinks that the first thing you need to do is consider why you set a new year’s resolution in the first place. Achieving any resolution is rarely a linear path,” she says. When you notice yourself wavering, it’s important to reflect on what leverage you have for change. Without leverage, we won’t have motivation.” Anything that is pleasurable has the potential to be habitual. It’s uncomfortable to break a habit. Our brains are inherently pleasure-seeking devices, after all, wired to seek comfort and avoid pain. That motivates us and dictates our behaviour.

We need a pretty good payoff as compensation for going through the discipline and discomfort required to keep a new year’s resolution. If you want to exercise more, ask yourself why,” Anderson continues. Is it a means to build community? To look different? To work on your physical health? To help your mental health? You probably like the sounds of most of those things, but one is likely a bigger driving force than the others and that is what will motivate you.” Concentrate on the pay-off.

Aim lower

If you want to keep your new year’s resolution you need to think carefully about how you define success. Another big mistake is people being very rigid with their definition of success,” says Anderson. For instance, telling themselves they will walk five times a week for 5km each time. Then they can spiral into shame and avoidance when they can’t stick to this schedule.”

She reckons it’s a better bet to aim lower for a higher chance of success when it comes to your new year’s resolution. Being flexible with your definition of consistency will mean you are more likely to have sustainable success,” she says. Consistency is just doing something more often than not. That might look like telling yourself you’d like to walk more days than not each week.” So, maybe swap I’m going to run 5k every week’ for I’m going to run more often this year’. That way, you are less likely to become disillusioned and more likely to sustain a change over a longer period.

Line yourself up for success

Ask yourself: is this aim fully achievable? If I set myself a new year’s resolution of being a professional football player, for instance, considering I couldn’t kick a ball in a straight line even if I was offered a million quid a month to do so, that’s not going to happen. If I set myself the goal of simply exercising twice a week, however, it’s at least plausible that I might achieve that.

If you have a specific body type or shape, you may never be able to change it fully,” says Dr Tang. You need to know your remit and try to remove comparison.” Once you’ve got an achievable goal, you can create space in your life to put yourself in the position to succeed. Make it easier on yourself to make changes. Set out your running kit before going to bed, book time in your diary to run. You know the possible barriers, try to address them before they arrive.”

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