New Year promises new beginnings – a chance to start over and make a change for the better. But then, a couple of months in to the year, resolve crumbles and old habits return. The trick to successful resolution keeping is to make them manageable and realistic.
“Research has shown that around 88% of New Year’s resolutions fail – which is a pretty dismal success rate,” says Robyn Farrell, Executive Head of 1st for Women Insurance. “If you are aiming for self-improvement in the year to come, it’s important to treat it strategically. Don’t just state a vague idea; put concrete plans in place for working towards your ultimate goal.”
Farrell outlines some of the main areas that women might want to work on, and suggests how you can strategise for success.
1. Money matters
2016 is going to be another year of belt-tightening for all South Africans. With electricity costing more, food prices likely to go up, interest rates increasing and even petrol creeping upwards, most South Africans are probably resolving to spend less, save more and reduce credit.
“Because money can be counted, it’s easy to break down goals into manageable milestones,” says Farrell.
“It’s best to tackle credit first, because debt attracts more interest than savings. So plan to pay extra into each credit account you have each month until they are up to date – and don’t take on any more debt while you’re at it.
She also advises allocating a portion of your income to savings at the beginning of every month, making sure you have your retirement covered, and then establishing short- and medium-term savings goals, with a regular saving towards those goals each month.
2. Eat right for you
Recent research has revealed what you probably knew all along anyway: that different diets affect different people in different ways. Since we can’t all participate in university-funded research about how we’ll respond to tomatoes, it’s a good idea to learn to listen to our own bodies or, if necessary, to seek the help of a professional to determine what eating plan is best for each of us.
“If you know that your diet is on the wrong track, you probably also know what you need to do to change it,” says Farrell. “Whether you want to give up sugar or fatty foods or eat more fresh fruit and vegetables, you’ll stand a better chance of succeeding if you cook your meals from scratch at home, rather than giving in to temptation when you’re on the run.”
To get this right, she explains that it’s important to plan ahead – make lists and shop on the weekend, and then cook a few lunches and dinners in advance. She also advises having a series of healthy go-to snack – like nuts, carrots, cucumber slices and cheese – in your handbag for when hunger strikes.
3. Get fit and healthy
We all know we should exercise – it’s good for our minds and our bodies – but for some people, cycling and pushing weights at the gym is just a nightmare. For this reason, it’s important to find something that you love doing so that you don’t leap at every excuse not to go.
“Making the time for something that you hate is pointless and counterproductive,” says Farrell. “Think of the things that you enjoy and try to find a partner to do those things regularly with you.”
4. Make time for you
Most women don’t take any “me time” at all. This revelation, although surprising, is understandable if you consider all the demands of work, relationships, housekeeping and child raising that women have to balance.
“Unfortunately, the only person who is going to give you a break is yourself,” says Farrell. “At the beginning of the year, log into your calendar and schedule time for whatever nourishes your soul – a weekend away, lunches with friends, a day at the spa or an afternoon reading by the river!”
5. Spend more time with your children
If you are a mother, chances are you spend some of your time feeling that your children don’t get enough of your attention. There are three things you can do to improve this situation, says Farrell.
“First of all, give yourself a break. We’re all doing the best we can with the resources we have. Then, make sure to be present in the time that you do spend with your children. Focus on quality over quantity and limit interruptions, especially if they are electronic. Finally, rely on your village – encourage other friends and family members to spend time with your children, broadening their base of care and influence and easing the demands on you.”
6. The most important resolution of all
While it’s good to be ambitious about improving your live and lifestyle, it’s also important to treat yourself with love and kindness.
“It may be a cliché, but it’s important that you love yourself for who you are. If your resolutions are robbing you of your tranquillity and making you feel worse about yourself, then the most important thing you can do is focus on what makes you great. And just like all the other resolutions, you need to keep working at this all year – remember to give yourself a pat on the back for all you have achieved every month,” says Farrell.