Personally I can’t stand New Year resolutions and every time I see the irritating and unimaginative slogan: “new year, new you!”, I get an overwhelming urge to shout loudly. That might come as a surprise from someone who specialises in understanding how to change our behaviour in order to achieve extraordinary things; however, the reality is that research has shown that setting one-off targets with lofty dreams of success is a poor way to achieve them. If you’re serious about making 2017 a year that matters for you and to embrace fully the gift of life we are fortunate to have each day that we wake up, it’s much, much simpler – and more enjoyable – than you may think:
1) Get that pen out
Make your list of things you’d like to achieve each day, first thing in the morning. At the end of the day, reflect on the things that you did get done, rather than those you didn’t.
2) Set simple goals and get moving!
Map out your ambitions and goals to ensure maximum success: who will you need to help you achieve them? How much time will you need to protect? What resources will you require? When you’ve listed them – act! Do something about it: call the people, schedule the time and book the resources.
3) Stay focused
We are quite a lazy species and a by-product of that is that we habituate very quickly to regular routines. This is the main reason that most resolutions and goals are left stranded mid way through the year: life gets in the way. Don’t let the fire in your belly and your ambition burn out: regularly remind yourself not only of what you want to achieve but why, too. What will happen if you achieve this goal? What will happen if you don’t? Truly understand the reality of what your efforts, dedication and time will mean and you’re much more likely to not only achieve it but to enjoy the process, too.
4) Treat yourself
For maximum success in whatever you decide to aim for this year, make sure there is plenty of opportunity to be rewarded; to do something you enjoy doing – perhaps even a little luxury like a spa day, a favourite meal, or some uninterrupted time to play with your dogs, a night out with your friends – each time you do something that helps to get you that bit closer to your goal, reward yourself. Save up the luxuries in your life and start to use them as collateral: we naturally see more of the behaviours we reinforce.
Finally, remember that we are only human! Expect and embrace days of failure: moments when you just can’t be bothered, mornings when you have no mojo and days where things just don’t go to plan. That’s life – and it’s a beautiful thing: go ahead and make the most of 2017.
Jez is working with the Youth Sport Trust to better understand behaviour change and how it affects children’s activity habits with the aim of creating a real difference to the current inactivity crisis. Jez will also be speaking at the YST 2017 Conference on Wednesday 1 March, sharing his thought-leading best practice with over 500 attendees from the world of sport and education – click here to book your place.