January, just like September, has always been a time associated with fresh starts and new beginnings. Change is hard for everyone- we are hard wired to keep doing the same things even if this isn’t always good for us. With up to 80% of new year resolutions failing here are some tips to create sustainable change. 

Set Achievable Milestones 

The key to setting achievable goals is making them small and manageable. It’s still so dark and cold, so go easy on yourself: nature chooses to hibernate now for good reason! We want to stretch ourselves out of our comfort zone or routine, but still do something we can stick to. You’ll feel pleased when you reach the first milestone and more likely to build on this. 

Lasting change is made up of lots of small stages rather than anything dramatic. 

Rather than taking out a new gym membership, say “I’ll start to walk more or run round the block.” Instead of abstaining from alcohol completely could you try for a couple of days mid-week. Rather than embarking on a drastic diet, add some more vegetables and reduce some processed foods. 

Hacks to change habits 

Have a think about what will make your goals easier to achieve. Leave your yoga matt out somewhere you need to step over it so it’s harder to avoid stretching for 10 minutes. 

If you want to be more conscious with your phone use leave your phone in the other room while you watch TV or sleep and remove notifications from your home screen. 

Support is hugely important – can you enlist a friend to take on a challenge with you, or at least share your intention with someone close? 

Keeping track in some way helps us to see what we have achieved so far. Celebrate every win: feeling good about ourselves increases motivation.  

We can make time for the things that really matter 

Time is often quoted as the biggest barrier to making positive changes, but it can be very illuminating to check in on the screen time in your phone settings. Bear in mind 15 mins is enough to do a quick fitness routine on You Tube or read a few pages of a book.  

Progress over Perfection 

Remember it’s important to practice self-compassion when things don’t go according to plan. Sticking to habits means getting back on track when you inevitably come off course, and remembering a little bit of something is better than a lot of nothing.  If you can’t do what you planned, then do something to keep what you are trying to build alive.  If you didn’t meditate for 20 minutes in the morning, try 3 minutes of deep breathing in the evening.  Plan for obstacles: if you can’t do your work out because the kids are ill, take a 15 min walk instead. Aim for 80-90% success rate rather than 100%. 

We don’t have control in life, but we do have the choice to make small changes that we can build on to move our lives in a positive direction. 

Malika Tezcan, Life Coach