Mind

Why New Year's resolutions just don't work

Sticking to those 'new year, new you' good intentions soon becomes an albatross around your neck.

Now is the time when we think about the year ahead and in what ways we'd like it to be different from the last. Maybe we'd like to give up sugar, be more organised or leaner.

Have you made New Year's resolutions like that before? Have you ever struggled to achieve them? I'm guessing yes! I bet you're full of enthusiasm for at least a week before losing your way and feeling… well, like a failure. That's why I say: resolutions shmesolutions. They just don't work.

I'm not against setting goals. After all, without a target you'll miss it every time. But if you're going to stick to the changes needed to achieve your aim, the goal itself needs to be meaningful and specific to you, rather than generic and vague.

Much as I'd like to, I can't sit down with each of you here and help you come up with a few personalised goals – but we can start the process.

Here are three of the areas I focus on with clients before getting really specific and setting goals unique to them:

Body

Has your goal ever been some version of 'change my body'? I hear this so much (at all times of the year) and it breaks my heart. It's a huge subject but, in short, when we dislike or even hate our body, we're less likely to take care of it. Instead of focusing on what you don't like about your body, give it some love! The more you appreciate your body, the better care you'll take of it – and the better it will take care of you.

Possible goal: forget about restrictions and instead make food choices with respect for your amazing body.

Mind

Learn to meditate, master a new language, crack the art of cryptic crosswords… I'm exhausted just thinking about these goals. Bad sign! The majority of people I know already have too much going on in their lives mentally.

So rather than adding to the list of things you should be doing, why not swipe a few things off that list? Do you religiously read the paper every morning? Check Facebook before getting out of bed? Always post your local cafe's amazing coffee art to Instagram? (Guilty!)

Possible goal: Keep a journal of every mentally time-consuming thing you do. After three days, go over it and see what should stay and go. If something takes time, is just a habit and doesn't give you joy, let it RIP in 2018.

Soul

To be truly happy we all need to be fulfilled in this area. More than any other category, this one has so many different meanings, it's impossible to say what might be a good goal for each individual.

What we do know is that people are happier and even live longer when they do things that feed their soul or nourish their spirituality. Spend some time thinking about which areas of your life might need a little nourishment in this respect, then go forth and nurture.

Possible goal: volunteer regularly, practise a faith, start chipping away at a big dream you have, get back to nature, pursue a passion, or foster connection with family and friends.

There's no doubt that a new year and the prospect of new beginnings gives us momentum, so why not harness that natural enthusiasm? Remember to rig the game to win by making your goals achievable and enjoyable. That way you'll tick goals off your list, feel like a champ (instead of a failure) and have a great year. Cheers to that! Happy New Year, everyone!

Words Annaliese Jones

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