New Year, New You?

28th December 2009  |  by Greg

Don’t you love New Year? Traditionally, it’s the time of year when we’re feeling a bit full or a bit fat or a bit like a like drunken tramp in training. If you’re anything like me, you won’t be feeling at your super-duper best.  What many of us do right now is make promises to ourselves about how healthy and fit we’re going to be in the following year.

There’s one problem. Hardly ever, and please feel free to share your secret if this isn’t the case with you, do we actually keep many or any of these resolutions and if we do it’s only until about mid January. I have empirical evidence to support this. I used to have a gym membership and my good-lady wife and I used to go 2-3 times a week, every week. In January, we noticed something strange yet predictable. We couldn’t get in the car park. We saw people we’d never seen before. They wore brand new tracksuits. But they didn’t last. Much as these people wanted to, much as they knew their new lifestyle would make them happier and more energetic and less grumpy, for some reason in the third week of January lots of them stopped going to the gym. I could get back in the car park and could find a free cross-trainer. Bonus.

One of my theories about why we don’t follow through and do the stuff we’re pretty sure will improve our lives is to do with the bit of our brains that’s designed to keep us us. It’s the same bit of us that knows what we’re like so we are “ourselves” without having to think about it. The problem comes when we try to change ourselves- we then don’t recognise what we see, so we go back to the old “us”.

I’ve spoken about one of the methods for implementing change in previous posts- visualisation. You get your brain used to the new you by deliberately thinking about the new you before you become the new you. You bring about what you think about. You can take this a stage further and this might be the time of year to give this a try- write down what your behaviour will look like. Write it positively- (ie write what you want to do not what you don’t) and include words that let you know you’ll enjoy it.

Here’s one of mine for the new year:

“I enjoy eating healthy food and make preparations to do so.”

I’ve got about four or five of these going at any one time. I look at them as many times as I can each day. If that’s twice a day, that’s OK. If it’s five times a day, this is better. If it’s ten times a day and I spend a couple of minutes thinking about each one them then behaviour changes very quickly.

I’ve found that I need to return to some of my promises periodically. I like mulled wine and mince pies as much as the next mulled wine and mince pie lover but I don’t want my treats to become a lifestyle. They’re not really treats then are they?

A word about promises. Take the promises to yourself as seriously as you take the promises to others. It seems that easiest person in the world to let down is ourselves. My advice is not to make promises to yourself that you’re not going to keep. Every time you do you lose a bit of the power to change yourself. So choose your promises carefully. It doesn’t mean that because you didn’t promise yourself, you can’t have a go at the things you’re working on- but you take the pressure off yourself.

Enjoy the New Year everyone- no pressure.

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