New Year's resolutions: why and how?

THE festive season is often so hectic – filled with family, friends, food and fun – that it’s hard to find the time to sleep, let alone time to reflect on the year that’s about to end or the one about to begin.

So when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, probably many of us fall back on the old chestnuts without putting too much thought into it: lose weight, save money, stop smoking, stop eating junk food.

There are so many things we feel we should be doing – or not doing. How often when we make a resolution, though, do we think about why or how we will do it?

Specialists in many fields, such as psychology and neuroscience, give great suggestions on how to set effective goals such as New Year’s resolutions.

An enduring helpful acronym, widely attributed to American management consultant George T Doran in 1981, is SMART.

The acronym has stood for variations on Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound – all seemingly sound principles that most people have come across.

But perhaps one of the most vital aspects of goals – no matter what time of year – could be why we want to achieve them.

Is “losing weight” even really a worthy goal in itself? Or do you, in fact, want to be able to keep up with the kids or reduce your risk of a family health issue? Surely the spin-off benefits of losing weight are more motivating than just seeing the scale change.

Or say you think you should save money, maybe towards a house deposit. What would excite you more: “saving money in 2018” or being a quarter or half way to never having to worry again about eviction, house inspections or begging the landlord for repairs?

Another important facet is how: how you will achieve your goal by the time 2018 ticks over to 2019.

Resolutions for an entire year are usually kept, fortunately or unfortunately, one day at a time, so is there a way you can automate your daily actions towards your goals? One of our team swears by an automatic weekly bank transfer to a separate savings account, then living off the remainder. Another says they’re far more likely to exercise early in the morning if they lay out their clothes the night before.

Yes, the festive season is busy, but digging into these questions – maybe by investing a little time during this final weekend of 2017 – might make all the difference.

May you have a great 2018 – one day at a time, how-ever and why-ever works for you.

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