Kicking off the new year on the right foot when you're motivated is easy. But how do you maintain new healthy habits when your resolve starts to fade?
There are two things many of us have at the start of a new year: great ideas for healthy change and plenty of motivation.
The problem with motivation is that it disappears quite quickly. So whether you're trying to quit smoking or start meditating daily, how can you make your resolutions last beyond the second week of January?
If we really want to change we need to figure out a way to keep doing the things that are required even when we don't feel like it or we're not excited about it.
So if you want to make your resolutions stick, here are some golden rules to developing healthy habits:
•Don't try to change too much at once. Focus on just one or two new habits at a time.
•Be clear about your goals. If your goal is to be successful, define what success actually means to you.
•Turn motivation into commitment by being better informed. Having a strong rationale for doing something is better than having a general recommendation or just telling yourself, 'I really must do that'.
•Focus on why you are trying to change. Know the benefits of changing, and the consequences or costs of not.
•Make time for your new habits. Get up an hour earlier if you intend to fit exercise into your schedule, or give yourself time to walk to the train station instead of driving.
•Finish what you start. Don't be the person who perpetually starts but never finishes. Set yourself some non-negotiable rules around the new habit or behaviour.
•Create an accountability system. Keep a diary, get a training buddy or accountability partner such as a friend, psychologist, dietician or anyone who will help you stay focused.
•Get regular reinforcement through reminder systems, visual cues such as photographs and by talking to others about your goals.
•Ask better questions of yourself to get better results, i.e. 'With my genetics, what's the best diet for me?'
•Monitor your progress. This can be through your diary, regular records of your activities, etc.