2020 resolutions: Be reasonable, specific and organised to succeed

New Year's resolutions fade very quickly? So how can we prevent that from happening, ponders Ailin Quinlan
2020 resolutions: Be reasonable, specific and organised to succeed

YOU CAN DO IT: Put something achieveable on your New Year’s Resolutions list, like taking a daily walk. Picture: Stock

HERE’S the thing about making a New Year’s Resolution; you’re probably going to forget all about it in a few weeks. Because once the new Year’s Eve trumpets and fireworks fade away — something which happens very fast — the New Year’s Resolutions aren’t that far behind them.

Life takes over. You go back to work. You get busy, you get tired,you get strapped for time. The kids get sick. You can’t find time to do the meditation you promised as part of your Resolution.

Beset by sick kids, and the demands of keeping a job going and a home running, you forget to make the healthy lunch the night before, or to drink warm water with ginger or lemon juice in it every morning.

Eh, in point of fact, you forgot to buy the ginger when you were doing the shopping the other day. And you forgot to get the lemons, too.

You forget to do the morning stretches, and that gym membership you got your spouse or partner to give you for Christmas looks far less enticing on a freezing February evening when you’re starving and the traffic is a killer.

There’s a reason why less than 10% of people actually follow through on, and achieve their New Year’s Resolutions.

In fact there are lots of reasons.

Everyone has a different one or ones.

So the chances that you will ever become a member of the very elite group of about 8% of people who achieve their New Year’s Resolutions, are slim. (Slimmer than you’ll ever get, probably. New Year’s Resolution or not. ) In fact, by about mid-February something in the region of 80% of those great aspirations all over the world have fallen flat on their sad little faces.

The odds are against you.

So why bother?

Of course, on the other hand, you could begin by not making any big headline New Year’s Resolution. You could just start small.

Like taking a daily walk, putting a litre of water on your desk, or giving up bread two days a week.

You push through the first couple of weeks and then, suddenly, you find you’re enjoying the evening walk, and as regards the bread, you realise one day that you don’t miss it any more.

You will also find, as time goes by, that you’re able to walk both faster and for longer.

And now that you’re better hydrated and that extra water is working on the detox and you’re surviving without bread two days a week, well, what’s the point of binging on takeaways?

Gradually - but note that I’m not guaranteeing this - given the breadless halo that now shines above you, you may find that you’re starting to avoid the calories-saturated pizzas and, along with that, the accompanying, sugar-laden white wine that you once ladled down your throat with such thoughtless aplomb.

So start small. And you don’t expect too much of yourself. Remember, you’re up against it, statistically, and daily life is your enemy.

So rather than printing out a big timetable with brightly coloured boxes featuring daily gym sessions and Fast Days, and committing to consuming only bananas and spring water once the turkey carcass joints the empty Roses box in the bin, give yourself a break.

I met a man once in the doctor’s waiting room, who looked great.

We were all having a chat about lifestyle, and our struggles with weight-loss, when this chipper fella chipped in to day that he had found the perfect formula.

He said that he ate food five days a week and fasted for two. It was some diet or other he said. “Look it up.” I did, later.

What he was talking about, I think was the fasting for weight loss phenomenon, which made headlines a few years ago — a doctor and journalist, Michael Mosley, published The Fast Diet back in 2013 or so, and soon after a similar book by another journalist, Kate Harrison was published, The 5:2 Diet. Anyway, whichever diet this man in the doctor’s waiting room was on, it really worked for him. But guess why? This man worked on an oil rig, several weeks on, several weeks off, so he wasn’t coming home every night trying to stick to his fast and not to eat the food the rest of his family ate.He was able to impose a discipline because he essentially was living alone (even though he was on the oil rig.) So we asked what happened when he had his weeks off, at home. Oh the weight went back on, he said insouciantly. Because of, well, daily life! Everybody nodded.

Research shows that while the top three New Year’s resolutions are eminently sensible — exercising more, losing weight and eating more healthily, most of us fall flat on our faces within weeks.

And that’s because, for the main part, the goals they set are overly ambitious and are not planned in terms of how they are going to do it.

The secret seems to lie in being reasonable and being specific and being organised.

It’s not enough to say you want to save €3,000 by the end of the year, or lose a stone by the summer.

You have to have a specific starting point in terms of how much you want to save or how much weight you want to lose by a specific point in time.

And it has to be realistic in terms of what you can afford to shave off your weekly expenditure, or how you can realistically fit in extra exercise or a healthier breakfast and lunch each day - in other words, you work out how you will enable yourself to lose the weight.

Will you make the time to make a healthy lunch the night before; can you get up five minutes earlier to get the porridge on so that it will cook while you’re having your shower and be ready in time - so you don’t end up lashing into four slices of white toast and marmalade?

In other words, you have to ensure that you make time for the preparations you require to eat better or to take more exercise.

It’s not going to happen on its own, no matter how hard you try to wish it into being. The day doesn’t get longer and your salary (probably) won’t expand exponentially just because you want to put by an extra €25 a week.

Sure give it a shot. Or don’t…

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