New decade, new you? A guide to setting resolutions that actually work

2020 is the start of a new decade. What better time to turn over a new leaf? Here’s how to go about setting your new year’s resolutions.

The thing about New Year’s resolutions is… They don’t work. I’m sure this isn’t really surprising to you. We’ve all set New Year’s resolutions to start doing something overly ambitious at some point – only to fail, lose interest or simply forget.

Research shows that less than 25% of resolutioners actually stick it out for a full month, and fewer than 8% actually accomplish what they’ve set out to do.

The problem is that we want it all, and we want it now, so we jump head first into the deep end. We make drastic changes that are unsustainable in the long run instead of making small lifestyle adjustments that can stay with us for the rest of our lives.

Here’s what to do: Set SMART goals

And by SMART, we mean Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Making sure your goals for the new year have these characteristics will give you the best possible chance of succeeding.

  • Specific: being specific helps keep you accountable. Say “I will ride my bike to work three times a week” instead of “I’m gonna start exercising”
  • Measurable: In order to measure progress, we have to determine what we’re measuring. Saying that you want to lose weight isn’t specific enough, and that makes it easier to quit early.
  • Achievable: This one’s pretty self-explanatory. You can set super ambitious goals, but you should break them up into smaller, achievable pieces. Losing 10 kilos is hard, but losing 1 kilo several times over is easier, more achievable, and easier to stay motivated for!
  • Realistic: “Achievable” ensures that your goal is attainable, but this ensures that it’s something you’re willing to attain. Want to lose weight, but you’re not willing to work for it? Sorry, that isn’t a realistic goal yet.
  • Timely: You should put a deadline on achieving your goal. A deadline can help keep yourself accountable, which is a good thing. Just make sure your deadline is realistic too. Making big changes to your life is a marathon, not a sprint. Slow and steady wins the race.

Plan for failure

If you set out to change your life in any meaningful way, it’s almost certain that you will fail at some point. If you start a new diet, you will cheat on it. If you start working out, you will take a few too many days off. It’s only natural.

It’s really hard to change habits we have ingrained in ourselves over years or decades, nevermind changing them in a couple of weeks.

What’s important is to anticipate the failures and to not give up when you hit a temporary setback. It’s all too easy to think “oh, I messed up this week, so I’ll just start again on Monday”, but a more healthy approach is to recognise your mistakes and get back on the horse.

Start low and go slow

Whether you’re new to exercising or a veritable professional, you might want to trial your new resolution before you commit.

If you’re thinking about cycling to work, you should know that cycle2city has a 7 day free trial, which you can find here!