Have you set some new year resolutions to partake in? Do you feel overwhelmed or stressed by the goals you have set? Does the stress cause you to feel unproductive? January is considered one of the most stressful months of the year for several reasons. One of the main reasons is that so many people are partaking in New Year’s resolutions. There is no doubt that, if accomplished, resolutions to make a change in your diet, exercise, or personal finances can be beneficial to both your mental and physical health. But the excessive pressure you put on yourself to accomplish them is not healthy. All of a sudden your well-intentioned goals become a source of stress. Stress that prevents you from moving forward and achieving your goals. There is a reason why people make and break resolutions in short order. The main reason appears to relate to a tendency called False Hope Syndrome. We sometimes believe the change we set for ourselves is going to be easy and effortless. When we set high expectations that aren’t actually realistic, or have too short a time frame to achieve them, we may set ourselves up to fail before we begin. It’s often better to set several baby steps and give yourself enough time to get there, so that you’ll know you’re ‘winning’ in your New Year, New You self-improvement and change management strategies.
Here are some pointers as to how you can cope with new year resolution stress-
Address any barriers to the resolution sticking (negative mindset, external conflicts, lack opportunity, excessive goals and/or not-linked to values). Fear of failure is the most common barrier, and needs to be faced first – as this fear will be the basis of whether you feel or believe you can change your behaviour or thought patterns.
Prepare for action. Focus on one resolution at a time; and set a realistic goal around something that you have spent time contemplating and have decided you are ready and willing to change or overcome.
Action leads to change.
Keep returning to a positive statement that you can identify with: e.g “Anyone can talk about changing, I am taking the steps to change.”
Keep a diary log. Remind yourself – a resolution deserves respect. You are changing a behaviour and it takes commitment, time and energy, before it becomes a habit.
Don’t do it alone. Weekly check-ins with a support buddy is invaluable. A great opportunity to reflect and report your high and lows relating to your resolution.
Maintenance – ensure gains made are maintained through reflection and rewards, otherwise new behaviour can be distinguished and old behaviour resurfaced.