Every January, gym memberships increase as people make their New Year resolutions to lose weight and get fit. Any decision to look after your body better can only be good but when February arrives, very often that commitment you made on the 1st January has weakened and your membership fee has been wasted.
Sound familiar? Of course, that doesn't mean you intentionally mean to break your resolutions. We all start out with good intentions but then something gets in the way. Long working hours, email, domestic problems, sometimes illness — they all conspire to frustrate that which you really want to do.
That fact is that your New Year resolutions need to be realistic and sustainable, or they will just fail, the same as last year. You need to concentrate your efforts on just one resolution per month and not take on another one until the first one is succeeding.
Keep a diary, and at the beginning of each month, write down what it is that you are aiming to achieve. At the end of each week, monitor your progress and then at the end of each month you will be able to see if your goal has been achieved. This is the strategy to keep your mind focused.
Imagine that you may want to start doing some voluntary work for a local charity. Again, what is it that is getting in your way in order for you to make that first step towards helping someone else? The answer, of course, is absolutely nothing!
All you have to do is to make that appointment to see the head of the charity, go and see them and set up your first visit. Often this first step seems to be the difficulty, but in reality the only problem is your own inertia!
Remember that all those people who do write a book or help a local charity all have the same 24 hours as you do, yet they actually achieve what they have resolved to do. So, in essence, this is a mindset problem — a state of mind that needs changing.
The other day, I returned from three weeks in South Africa where I have been visiting the local township communities for the past 10 years, and this year I have come back with two goals that I hope to achieve. The first is a Pentecostal church in Cape Town that has 1,000 members but no permanent building in which to hold their services.
My goal is to get them ‘twinned' with a church in the UK, thereby raising their profile and encouraging people to come from the UK to visit them, and vice-versa. Hopefully, this ‘twinning' will help them to raise funds for the building that they need so badly and I have great hopes that this project will succeed.
My second goal is to help a disabled woman who lives in Mossel Bay, about four hours drive from Cape Town. She needs replacement hip operations but has no money to pay for them.
I have made an appointment for her to see an orthopaedic consultant for an assessment of her condition and when I receive the report, I will then try to persuade the local authority to help pay for her operation, so as she can walk again and return to become a valuable member of her community.
Although this may be doubtful, we have to make the effort and if we are unsuccessful then we must think of some alternative. The primary goal is not to give up!
These are two goals that have been created on paper for me to start work on as soon as I get back to London. Now I have to ensure that they happen.
And for me personally — well, I am going to start Pilates lessons to strengthen my back! All the writing that I do in front of the computer, I know is not good for me!
What are your goals for 2012? They can be either to help you or they can be to help someone else. It doesn't matter. But what does matter, is that they are made and put into practice and obviously, only you can do this.
I wish you all a very Happy New Year and be sure to let me know how you get on.
The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and Motivational Speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven stress strategies - www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk
- New Year resolutions often fail in two weeks.
- In order for a resolution to succeed, it must be realistic.
- Everyone has the same 24 hours per day.