Yes, it’s that time again – “New Year; New You” attitudes are flying around and it’s the time to get up off your bum and do something.
I do like the fact that a new year does give everyone the excuse to start afresh and better themselves, but, at the same time, I often think it’s a shame that we wait for this time of year to do so. I’m saying this fully acknowledging that I am probably one of the main culprits of falling into this trap.
At the start of each new year, I always have good intentions. Then, as each month passes by, life just gets in the way. I say “life” gets in the way but that’s also a poor excuse. If I’m perfectly honest I just forget.
General vs. Specific Goals
I also, like most people, create new year’s resolutions that are just unachievable (even in the long run). There’s a lot of research that says creating shorter, more realistic goals are better resolutions if you really want to achieve something. A lot of the time, we make goals that are too general :
- Learn a language
- Get fit
- Be healthy
- Read more
There’s a lot more I could add to this list and each of them will end up with the same result… you get nowhere. Perhaps you will follow this to the book in the first month but I guarantee that these goals will slowly peter out.
The problem with New Year resolutions is the “go hard or go home” attitude. You want a complete transformation and you give yourself a year to do it in. The problem is that we often don’t work that way. Whilst it’s good to set a long-term goal, to make it even more achievable, you should also add short-term goals to them.
For example, if you want to read more ask yourself if there is a certain genre you want to read more of and set yourself a goal of reading a set number of books a month. You could even plan these out on a calendar.
Deep down we really are just like any other animal. When rewarding good behaviour, like Skinner’s box rat, we’ll be more likely to do it again. So don’t forget that if you achieve one of your short-term goals to reward yourself.
Perhaps you’ve decided to take up running and have reached your goal of running at least three times a week in the last month (or even the last week). Most gym goers will have what’s called a ‘cheat day’. It’s a time where you can give yourself a break and reward yourself on the hard work you’ve done. You may think “won’t I just put on the weight I’ve lost?”. You’d be surprised to learn that a cheat day not only brings about positive reinforcement on this new behaviour but also helps boost metabolism and actually helps you stick to a long-term diet and exercise routine.
My New Year’s Resolutions and Plans
I’ve talked enough about the concept of new year’s resolutions, so let’s take a look at some of the plans I’ve got for 2019 and how I will be making these into short-term, attainable goals.
1.) Diet and exercise
Of course, this is at the top of most people’s New Year’s resolutions each and every year, and perhaps it’s because it’s something we all know we should be doing more of (although most likely it’s down to those Christmas treats like my festive sausage rolls which I can never resist).
Sometimes it’s easy to forget the most important part of living – your body. And you have to look after it.
Exercise: Now, I’m normally alright at doing exercise (and I love it when I do do it), but I admit I’m not as regular as I should be. For this resolution, my goal is to not be so hard on myself on this.
As a result, my plans are to go the gym or run at least three times a week, but (even failing that) to even just go for a walk every day whether it’s for half an hour or longer. I was doing this a lot before the start of the new year and having stopped since Christmas, I look back and can already tell it made such a difference on my physical and mental health. So it’s definitely something I’ll be starting again soon. Oh, and look at doing some yoga!
Diet: This is probably my biggest weakness out of the two mentioned in this point. I love the feeling of exercise but with a diet I just don’t get the same euphoria. I am also not that well educated on what I should be eating nor about simple recipes I could make that would help.
My first goal then is to research recipes that will work well for me. My plan with this is to look at a variety of vegetables that I’m not already eating and explore different tastes. I’m not a big fan of mushrooms, for example, but after having a little the other day I am willing to incorporate some into my meals in the future.
Specifically, then, what am I doing? I’m going to go one month of a Mediterranean diet and incorporate a range of vegetables into my meals. Then take the next months using the ideas I’ve learnt to mix up recipes in the future. Whilst I will not be doing the full diet after that one month, I believe it’s all about proportions and I don’t think it’s possible to stick to a full diet for a prolonged amount of time.
Also, go without any crap (and yes, that includes chocolate and wine!) for at least two weeks at a time. After such time, I will give myself a cheat day.
2.) Learn Spanish
As you can imagine, having lived in Spain before and then again now, this is always at the top of my list of priorities. However, just like any other goal I set myself, because I simply just say ‘learn Spanish’, I get nowhere. Whilst I understand more than I realise, I’m not actually a confident speaker out and about (even on our Sunday market walks in Denia!). This year I want to change that.
As a result, I will be giving myself three months to give myself the time and build up my confidence to talk basic conversational Spanish. What do I mean by this? I simply mean, when out in shops, pharmacies, restaurants etc.
My short term goals along the way will be to attend Spanish ‘meetups’ at least two times a month and find a Spanish teacher again!
3.) Start Creative Writing
This is something that I have been missing for a long time now. I’ve always loved writing my own stories but in the last year or so (with everything going on and taking other courses) I just haven’t found the time to pick it up again.
I’m hoping that this blog is a good start in the right direction and will encourage me to not only write more but also start writing fiction again.
As a realistic goal though you won’t see me talking about writing a book, I’m afraid. I’ve tried it and I understand that it takes a lot of dedication. No, instead, I think I’ll start by writing short stories or just chapters of ideas that come to mind. I aim to get one written once a month which I feel is a do-able achievement. To help my motivation further I am going to look at online challenges and competitions that could push me further.
4.) Read more
I mean I probably shouldn’t make this a New Year’s resolution as I do a lot of reading as it is. Even though I know it’s not possible to read every single book in existence, I always feel like I’m missing out and that I’m not reading enough.
As a result, I am going to give myself the resolution to read different genres than I would usually go for. For those of you who don’t know me, my favourite genres do tend to be fantasy/sci-fi and romance. There’s something about the escapism that I get in these worlds that I don’t seem to find elsewhere.
The one genre that is popular that I never really read, however, is crime and mystery. It’s always at the top of the charts so there’s obviously some good reads that I’m missing. As I read a lot, I can’t even say that I will read an X number of books in the month (mainly because I will most likely surpass that number!). Instead, my goal is to read one crime/mystery book a month and one classic book a month.
Now that I’ve got myself an Amazon Paperwhite that should be easy to do, right?
5.) Plan a Wedding!
So back in 2017, my boyfriend proposed to me! Unlike most people though we haven’t had the chance (or the funds) to actually look at planning a wedding. In comparison, we know someone who got engaged on Christmas Eve and spent all night starting their preparations! I’m just not like that.
To be honest, I am just not that great at planning something so big. I’m not saying that I want a massive wedding but even for something small there is still so much to think about and so many expectations to fulfil (even just from family!).
Whilst at the time of our engagement we were pretty settled, we knew that we wanted to go back to Spain again. So planning our wedding was put on a bit of a back burner which we had no problem about.
However, now that nearly two years have come and passed we really want to make a start on our wedding preparations.
I think for this resolution though it needs to be as simple as possible so that I don’t start to stress out and panic!
I want to say that by the Summer we would have chosen a venue (at the very least!) and get a calendar together perhaps on what stages we should focus on next.
I will most likely be adding to this list as the year progresses but that’s the best bit… You shouldn’t have to wait until a new year to make new goals. If you find you aren’t achieving those you’ve previously set then don’t worry about moving on and finding new ideas. I definitely have a lot more ideas than the ones I’ve listed above some include:
- Do a fitness challenge (like those obstacle races)
- Do something for charity
- Learn a new skill to develop my career
- Look into different career avenues
- Make the time to talk/see friends and family more
- Go on social media less
The reason I haven’t listed these in my main set is because, for one, they are too general, and secondly, I want these things to be actions I take continuously throughout the year and the years following. Some are just things that I will just take upon myself when the time is right. I’m not going to pressure myself into doing everything I’ve ever wanted to do at once. New Year’s resolutions shouldn’t be like that. This year I’ve focused on the five above and I want to make these achievable first. They are my priority.