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As we enter into 2017, we start to hear the same mantra we hear at the beginning of every year, “new year, new me”, and we are constantly asked the age-old question, “What’s your New Year resolution for (enter year here)?”

Maybe it’s the idea of starting fresh every January 1st… the notion of newness and a sense of renewed hope tends to grip people, and it gets us excited for a new, perhaps better chapter in our lives. We tend to start the year off feeling determined that this will be the time we quit smoking, pick up healthier habits, finally use that gym membership we got a few years back, learn a new skill or language, or just do something different.

While some people will stick to these resolutions, others lose all their motivation, overcome by a sense of failure from not being able to do what they set out to do.

So how can we change the cycle? We came up with a few tips to help keep you driven so that you too can achieve your goals this year.

  1. Set goals

Resolutions often don’t work out because we never plan for them. Goals, on the other hand, require careful planning while constantly setting aims as you progress. Simply saying we want to do something isn’t enough – we have to figure out how we’re going to reach our goals. 

  1. Write it down

The next step, once we figure out what we want and how we’re going to go about it, is to write a clear plan on paper, or on a Word document. Going back to this written plan over and over will help us stay focussed on what we need to do.

Write down how you want to go about reaching your goal, what you will need to do, and when. 

  1. Be realistic and patient

Any goal takes time, patience, and dedication before it can see fruition. This is why goals need to be realistic and manageable – it is important not to overwhelm yourself.

For example, if weight loss is the goal, then it’s easier and more realistic to aim at losing a couple of kilos every month, rather than trying to lose 25 kilos in a few weeks. It is also important to realize that crash dieting in order to lose weight quickly will only leave you feeling ill, tired and miserable, so nutrition needs to be on point (and this is where research would come in).

  1. Focus on ONE goal

Trying to do too many things at once will only backfire, which is why focus is key. Taking on too many new changes will only confuse and overwhelm you. It’s better to concentrate on getting good at one thing before diving into something else. Take it one day at a time.

  1. Find a support system

It’s much easier, and sometimes more fun to do something new with a friend or a partner, or just a group of like-minded people looking to reach the same goal you are. You can keep each other accountable, and provide moral support on those days when it gets too tough, which makes falling off the wagon that much harder.

  1. Don’t be too hard on yourself

At the end of the day, being human means we’ll inevitably make mistakes and fall to temptation, whether it’s having a cigarette on a bad day, skip a workout when it’s just too cold, or eat a doughnut when it’s not a cheat day. And it’s OK. Come back determined to be better, and move on from it without guilt trips. Self-improvement is never easy, and the most important thing is to always get back up, and just keep moving forward.

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