Recognising the traits of a successful resolution
If ever there was an opportune moment to reset and start anew, the end of 2021 would be the perfect time.
In a year that has provided a plethora of setbacks, frustrations and constant uncertainty, the proposition of a fresh start is a welcome addition to the prospect of leaving the year 2021 behind. The idea of New Years’ Resolution is simply to focus on something new, usually to improve or better yourself from the previous year. Naturally, a considerable amount of resolutions come in the form of wanting to eat better or exercise more regularly. A willingness to strive for better individual health is one of the more popular promises that people tend to make to themselves at the start of a New Year.
However, with less than half of people able to maintain their New Years’ Resolution according to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, just how difficult is it to maintain these new goals?
How to make a New Years’ Resolution you’re able to keep
Habits have been proven to be repeated behaviours in response to cues within the environment. The concept is relatively easy to understand; if you wish to start a new project, or encourage more of a particular behaviour, habits become key. Repeating the desired behaviour will ultimately lead to the desired outcomes, whether that be heading out on that early morning run before work or making that trip down to the gym.
The renewed enthusiasm and excitement that can accompany the beginning of a New Year can provide a number of opportunities to start the year with a ‘Bang’. Starting a new habit with an unrealistic intensity or frequency has been proven to have a positive impact on the ability to maintain a New Years’ resolution. The important thing to recognise is that maintaining that same level of commitment is unsustainable and therefore when that commitment begins to wane slightly or briefly disappear altogether, it is not so much an ‘all or nothing’ approach, but rather a recognition that a renewed assessment of your commitments and giving yourself another chance provides a far better chance of reaching and maintaining your goals.
From this perspective, the time-frame of 21 days (or 3 weeks) has been highlighted as being a key indicator of a new activity becoming a habit and six months for it to become a part of your personality. At the beginning of January, looking ahead to June or beyond for a recognition of success is a potentially daunting prospect. Looking to breakdown your targets into manageable chunks of a week, 3 days or even every 24 hours will help you to take the small steps needed to make that daunting prospect a realistic target.
Even at the elite stage of a sporting career, the prospect of a New Years’ Resolution provides an easy opportunity to reset, reassess and tackle the challenges that await you. Regardless of the level of competence or ability, the principles of a resolution remain the same. Breaking the target down into manageable chunks and committing to the small commitments will lead to the desired behaviours and outcomes further down the line.
Rarely will you find a New Years’ Resolution to become Olympic Champion. However you will often find a resolution to commit to a training style that focuses on a specific area of skillsets that need improving, thus contributing to the training programme of an individual who may have becoming Olympic Champion in their sights.
For some athletes, they may even set themselves targets and goals away from the sporting arena, thus contributing to a better balanced approach to training. Whatever the circumstances and whatever the final decision on your resolution, there are some important principles to abide by in order tog vice yourself the best possible chance of success.
Ryan Lochte, 12-time Olympic Medallist in Swimming chose to not drink Soda as part of his New Year’s Resolution. Whilst the drinking of Soda would not directly contribute to his success (or lack of it) in the swimming pool, this small behavioural habit may provide a tiny, additional boost to the physical preparation his body, even if the majority of impact may be psychological.
For many, the turn of the New Year will follow a month of eating and drinking far more than would normally occur throughout the rest of the year. Whilst that may have extended to more than just a ‘few drinks of soda’, the for athletes and non-athletes alike, January 1st therefore provides an opportunity for a reset of both mind and body.
Eating healthier and getting more exercise are subsequently two of the most popular resolutions for people looking to immediately impact the habits that crept into their daily lifestyle throughout the month of December.
Jinan Banna, a nutrition professor at the University of Hawai’i, states that; “To achieve weight loss as a New Year’s resolution, consistency and making small changes are key”. If the aforementioned resolutions are therefore taken into consideration, the prospect of going ‘cold turkey’ from all alcohol and unhealthy foods is a severe and drastic change in behaviours that become difficult to maintain. In reality, a minor change to the quantity or type of meals that you consume will allow you to be better equipped to maintaining your resolution, as well as providing the opportunity to adapt and progress your resolution once your habits are well practised.
Whatever you choose as your New Years’ Resolution, it’s important to remember that regardless of whether you’re an elite athlete preparing for the Commonwealth Games Football World Cup to come in 2022, it is important to recognise an understand the principles of creating and maintaining your desired behaviour. Being realistic, recognising the time commitments of your every day life and celebrating the small achievements throughout your journey will help to embed your resolution into your routine and set you on the path to succeeding and winning at whatever your target may be.