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3 ways to set new year's resolutions.

Yes, we are few days in January and you have probably already given thought to a fresh start of one sort or another. However clichéd or inaccurate we may feel the New Year New Me trope is, there is no denying it has some purpose. I wanted to look at three different ways to look at your new year.

First off, MOTIVATION. Right now, after possibly eating and drinking yourself into a nigh-on stupor for a month or so, you may be motivated for healthy change.

I often think, wonderful though Christmas is, it doesn't always seem like a holiday. You work really hard up to the break starting, then, if hosting, you serve your family for several days, then you have new year's and plop! back to work again. Phew! So no wonder we're ready to turn new leaves come the start of another year. Anyway, I digress, MOTIVATION. The really important thing about motivation, from a neuroscience perspective, is to JUST GET STARTED and take TINY STEPS. Your hair doesn't grow 10cm in a moment, the leaves don't grow on the trees in seconds... everything in nature is about small and consistent steps leading to big changes. It takes 6 weeks to embed a bad habit and at least that to swap in a new habit. Building pathways is about small steps, consistently. It's always better to do something rather than nothing and it doesn't have to be big, but keep at it.

Nothing happens without a plan. So to make sure your goals for the new year come together, using a model such as SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound - look it up, there's lots of info about it on the web. Who can support you in achieving your dreams?, what resources do you need?

1. Ask yourself some questions to ascertain what is important to you this year

What is your THEME for the upcoming year - in one word? What would you like MORE of in your life? What would you like LESS of in your life? What do you WANT in life, but don't have? What do you HAVE in your life, but DON'T want? What you are most excited about for the coming year? What do you already know you want to accomplish this coming year? What is your biggest challenge in the upcoming year? What are your 3 biggest priorities for the upcoming year? If you did nothing else in the next year, what 3 things would still make the year a success for you?

Where do you want to be in 10 years? Then, What do you need to achieve in the next year to make sure that happens?

2. Review the previous year, and plan ahead

Rich Litvin says he used to live his life unconsciously, not giving much thought to what had gone. He now encourages clients to review their past year to consciously learn from what has gone before.


1. SUCCESS: What are you proud of this year? (It's not bragging if you've done it and bragging is a lost art). 2. ENERGY: What energised you and what drained you this year? (Your next level of success is held back by the people, places and habits that are draining you of energy).

3. FEAR: What scared you this year? (Fear is often a mask for desire. Did you let it hold you back, or did you move ahead anyway?)

4. GROWTH: How did you grow this year?

5. CONFIDENCE: What are you most confident about in this current moment?

6. EXCITEMENT: What are you excited for in the year ahead?

Litvin also says that if you have a vision of where you want to be in 25 years, then what happens in the next 90 days is 1% of achieving that. As I said before, it's all about the small steps. So what can you do in the next 90 days? And what did you achieve in the last 90 days? - Give yourself a pat on the back.

3. Mind maps and other tools

Lists work wonderfully for some people, but I'm one of those people who ends up with a squillion bits of paper and starts to feel maddened by them. So I have been embracing the art of mind mapping, and there are some fantastic apps you can do this on, so no trees die in the process.

I use xmind. I've done myself a mind map that represents the next three months.

It's great because I can see all the bits at once and it feels easy to pinpoint tasks and priorities in this format and then diarise them. Once they are in the diary, then I know what has to be done and when. Obviously something urgent will come up that upends my plans, but on the whole it provides both and an overview and focus to have it all down, and in a format that I find easy to update and refer to. What's your favourite way of staying on top of plans?

And finally...

To stay happy and healthy this year new year. Remember to take care of the basics.

  • Self Compassion and Self care, you're amazing not perfect

  • Get outside

  • Exercise - just do 5 mins if you don't feel you can do anything else. Build a habit doing the minimum and take it from there.

  • Have positive interactions - engage with strangers, family members, others

  • Have positive thoughts - when it's felt like a bad day, note the three good things that happened, even it it's that you had a really good cup of tea!

  • Have positive actions - do what you can and acknowledge when it's going well (our brain has a habit of only remembering the rubbish stuff)

  • Take care of your mental health - I read recently that people exercise to make a conscious impact on their long-term health. The same should be said for practices that enhance our mental health, such as keep a gratitude journal, practice mindfulness (like exercise just do 5 mins a day, keep it realistic), and if you're in a funk, sit back from the mood, observe it, wait for it to pass, and learn from it.

  • Again, you're amazing not perfect. Do what you can.

Happy new year!

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