Quitters Day is looming….fear not, it has nothing to do with a P45 but apparently, it’s the day when we are most likely to give up on our New Year’s Resolutions.
There are conflicting theories as to when it is exactly, some suggest it’s the second Friday in January which would have been last Friday on the 10th, and others suggest it is actually this coming Sunday (the 19th). Whether you believe in Quitter’s Day or not, there is often a slump around this time and a feeling of dejection that the resolutions we made on January 1st are either impossible to achieve or just haven’t made the significant impact we thought they would.
Making a change can be difficult. In fact in can take over 2 months to make a new habit stick so it isn’t surprising that over 80% of us give up on our resolutions early.
It’s very easy to give up, even in our yoga asana class, when we are taught a particularly challenging pose, the body wants to take the path of least resistance which can often lead to dumping weight in postures potentially causing injury, or we can spend hours going to classes but due to apathy and incorrect engagement we do not receive the full benefit of the class.
The same theory can be applied to giving up on our New Year’s Resolutions. By taking the ‘easy way out’ we miss an opportunity for significant self-improvement which makes us feel like failures and well, quite crappy about ourselves.
I’m something of an expert at failing New Year’s Resolutions. That was until a couple of years ago until quite frankly I decided to stick two fingers up to the whole concept. No, not the resolution making but the whole not ‘giving two flying f****’ if I don’t keep them.
Why oh why are we so hard on ourselves if we don’t meet the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves? In my opinion it’s a complete waste of time and energy.
Instead, I approach resolutions another way, where I word my affirmations a little differently, and I don’t beat myself up if I slip up now and again. Now I’m not saying my approach is the right way but it is the method that worked for me and has allowed me to carry through with the self-improvement goals I set myself on January 1st.
Firstly I don’t believe in giving anything up when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. Unless you are a smoker, have a poor diet or anything else that could be detrimental to your health then it might want to be an approach you want to consider. Now this is controversial, especially because of things like Dry January and Veganuary (which btw I think are fantastic in terms of raising awareness and money for charity). I just know that by giving up something I take such pleasure from just doesn’t work for me and when I am eventually ‘allowed’ I double down and pay for it the next day with either a hangover or bloated belly. Then I’m just miserable. This for me is not the intention of a New Year’s Resolution. However, this might be a challenge you want to take on and genuinely I applaud those that can and do. You do you.
Being too ambitious with your resolutions can also be your downfall. It’s like you are literally setting yourself up to fail before you have even started. Putting unrealistic goals on our to-do lists just adds unnecessary pressure we don’t need. Life can be challenging enough without us adding to it. Being realistic and setting yourself achievable goals are way more likely to lead to success. Maybe you want to give up chocolate and candy because you eat too much of it. Well that’s great but if you love these things going from one extreme to another will just make you feel terrible. Maybe you restrict sugary goodies to the weekend only or treat yourself to your favourite candy bar if you make it a certain number of days without. For me, this makes the determination to succeed so much easier. The carrot and stick method just works.
Also, don’t be in such a hurry to accomplish everything you set your mind to as soon as possible. Social media adverts promising that you will lose 5 stone in 6 weeks or achieving a one arm handstand in one week or less, may be possible for the very few but for most of us we need a little longer. We live in a world where we want everything immediately and get peed off that our resolutions aren’t as easy as the ‘Buy Now’ button. This need for instant gratification can often mean you miss out on the most important part – the journey of your progress, which can be even more rewarding than the goal itself.
Change takes time. Be patient and be sure to celebrate the small successes you make along the way because honestly it’s the best feeling. I apply this mindset to my yoga practice….if I set myself an asana goal I don’t attach a timescale to it at all…I have confidence in myself that one day it will happen but to enjoy how my skills and body awareness develop. It takes work and practise to achieve something worthwhile and you have to savour that process in order to really value the results. As Gandhi said; ‘You must be the change you want to see in the world’.
With that in mind, here are a few suggestions that might see you through Quitter’s Day:
1. Ask yourself why you plan on quitting
Does your resolution seem like a never-ending mountain to climb? Is there any way you can make it more achievable? Perhaps the promise to yourself to do an hour yoga class every day is just too much. Try starting small and then as you start to enjoy it more and get into the habit, then you can build on how regularly you show up on the mat.
2. Be specific
For example, I will be healthier in 2020. Well, how? This is not specific enough. Start simple. Perhaps initially your goal will be hitting your 5 fruit and vegetables a day. Then when that becomes second nature you can then increase it. Everything is a building block.
3. Reward yourself
Take smoking for example. Use the money that you would save on cigarettes and use it to reward yourself. If you are someone who smokes on average 5 cigarettes a day, and the average pack of 20 is around £10, you can save over £900 a year! Now that pays for a hell of a decent Christmas, or even contribute to an amazing holiday somewhere – your dream to travel to (insert exotic place here) just got a little easier.
4. Have incentives
This is especially important if you have ‘given up’ something for New year. The plight of raising awareness for charity can add that extra motivation you need to stick to your goals.
5. Find a friend who might have a similar resolution
Support is everything. It’s not surprising that resolutions are far easier to achieve when you work together. It just lightens the load a little bit. If getting fit and joining a gym is on your To Do list, see if one of your friends is thinking of doing the same. Quite often, gyms and health clubs offer further discounts this time of year especially if you bring a friend with you. Also, working out together is WAY more fun.
6. Consider investing in your resolution.
Now this doesn’t have to cost a fortune, but for me this works really well. Depending on your goals, getting the right equipment or some new kit can really help incentivise the next steps.
We just had Christmas. Perhaps you got some vouchers you can spend in the sales or maybe Santa Claus was really good to you and you got a FitBit or Apple Watch which in my experience really kick your butt to be more active than perhaps you normally would be.
7. Setbacks happen
So don’t beat yourself up about it. I try and avoid Fast Food where I can. However, now and again I just CRAVE a burger. This doesn’t happen often but when it does, it’s heaven. It can be really easy to come down on yourself hard if you had that extra helping of cake or G&T that you really had every intention of avoiding. But so what? There is nothing stopping you starting again tomorrow and are you less of a person because you had a little something of what you fancied? No you are not. You are not a failure. You are human. Enjoy that G&T and try again the next day. The fact that you are cutting down is in itself a really awesome achievement.
8. Slow and Steady wins the race
It takes time for self-improvement to take effect. Just because things don’t happen immediately doesn’t mean you should stop. In fact the longer something takes the more rewarding it is when you achieve what you set out to.
Small changes can make a big difference and for me personally, I’m more likely to keep my resolution if I enjoy the process – remember it’s the journey NOT the destination.
Finally, if starting a yoga class was on your To Do list for 2020 and you haven’t yet got around to it, start with some online classes at home. Many people are anxious about starting a class, believing that they are unfit and not flexible enough (but this is why you should start!). This in itself is another blog post but do some research. Maybe you find a class you like the sound of but aren’t quite sure. Find out who is teaching the class and reach out. I haven’t met a yoga teacher yet who isn’t happy to answer any questions and if it means that you have the information you need to make it to class then that’s brilliant.
But if you have quit by now, don’t worry about it. It’s JUST a New Year’s resolution and they don’t define whether or not you are a good person. You are still amazing – just the way you are (thank you Bruno).
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