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How to make New Year’s resolutions you actually stick to

Intelligent change expert and mindfulness coach Mia Forbes Pirie explains how to commit to making positive transformations

I’m not going to mince my words: not accomplishing what we set out to achieve makes us feel, well…a bit hopeless. Doesn’t it?

We’ve all begun the New Year with great intentions but often we find ourselves right back where we started. It’s not surprising that so many of us have given up altogether on New Year’s resolutions.

But this isn’t a bad time to make positive changes. Intelligent change has to be meaningful and comes from making small but consistent changes. Here’s how:

1. Set the right goals

Learning to trust and listen to yourself is key to achieving what you really want in life. Go after what you REALLY want and leave the rest behind. If a resolution is right for you, you should be able to answer yes to each of the following five questions:

  • Is it meaningful and important? Your time is precious, don’t waste it: make resolutions that mean something to you.
  • Does your whole body want this? Chances are your head has made a decision about a goal. What do your heart and gut say? Are they aligned or is your head going it alone?
  • Does it support you in becoming your best self? Set goals that align with who you really are, with your highest potential. What does the best version of you look like? Is this goal going taking you towards it?
  • Is this kind and self-loving? Work with, not against yourself. The results will amaze you and you’ll have fun along the way. Lose goals that are self-punishing.
  • Is this for you? Is this for you or for someone else? Kick goals that are for someone else to the curb. This is your life. If you’re doing this to please your mum, dad, partner or boss, let it go. This one’s for you.

If you’ve answered ‘Yes’ to all these questions, great. If there’s a ‘No’, go back to the drawing board and start again.

Once you’ve got your positives, the last question you need to ask yourself is, ‘Why?’ This is the killer question. Ask it over and over until you get to something that touches you.

This clarifies your goal and provides you with the motivation to support you in moving your resolution from fantasy to reality.

Now write your resolutions down and put them somewhere you can see them often or access them easily.

2. Make a realistic plan

It’s hard to change everything in one go. Make a plan that works for you and your life. Here’s how:

Don’t go for the quick fix. Build new habits. The quick fix is as rapidly undone as it is started. Habits take time – about three weeks – to build. So be sure to take consistent steps towards your goal for at least three weeks to give yourself the best chance of success.

Break your goal into bite-sized chunks. Real change comes from making small, consistent changes and building on your successes. Set a long-term goal to be achieved within six months. Identify where you want to be at the one and three-month points. How are you going to get there? Build in rewards to keep you incentivised.

Give yourself some freedom and make it fun. Doing something that isn’t really you is tiring. If you hate going to the gym find something you enjoy doing instead. That may require trying a few salsa classes, cycling outdoors or yoga. Wouldn’t it be easier and more fun to approach exercise with a sense of joy rather than obligation?

Life is unpredictable so give yourself some flexibility. If your goal is to eat healthily use the 80:20 rule, letting yourself off the hook from time to time. A plan that requires you to be 100% perfect is unrealistic. Be willing to adapt your plan over time if things aren’t working. Remember – you’re human.

[kleo_feature_item title=”Inspiring idea for 2017: Build mindfulness into your daily life” icon=”” icon_size=”default” icon_position=”center” ]I had been meditating for years before I committed to a daily mindfulness practice. I decided I would always be able to manage five minutes: so that’s where I started. Soon after, I committed to 15 minutes. It felt manageable. For the last few years I have meditated every day. My life has changed significantly and my ability to stay calm under fire and deal with difficult situations has increased beyond recognition.[/kleo_feature_item]

3. Get support

Studies have shown that people working towards goals with support achieve far better results. Get appropriate help from friends, family, a coach or group of individuals. This will support and encourage you in the harder times and celebrate your successes with you.

Last but not least, it’s a New Year so give yourself permission to shine. Success can be as scary as failure. Remember you deserve to succeed.


Intelligent change expert Mia Forbes Pirie is a mediator and coach whose clients have ranged from governments to religious institutions. Mia’s approach stems from a background steeped in the mindfulness. Check Mia's workshops and courses at:

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