January, the longest month of the year, or so it seems, is coming to a close. At last many of us will be saying and rejoicing in the fact that we have managed to survive it and have maybe even stuck to one or two of our “resolutions”. It’s so easy in December when indulging in all things considered naughty and extravagant to make elaborate plans to change, give up, do more, be better… and then January comes and the long list looks more like an endurance test and less like a happy new lifestyle.
Our downfall is not the list or what it contains, as let’s face it there usually is a valid reason why we verbalise the changes we want to make. The problem is there are often too many to tackle all at the same time. What rule book says we have to span our resolutions over the entire year or says we have to make all the changes at the same time? It’s only January and there are 11 more months in the year which offers plenty of time to work our way through the list.
Break it down
The 12 months challenges rather than the 12-month challenge is where every month we take something from our list to address that month. And if you don’t have a list, start one. It can be something simple like committing to adding two additional servings of vegetables to your daily diet or drinking an extra litre of water a day to doing a specific task. Or if it’s a bigger challenge like giving up smoking set yourself the goal of getting through the month first. At the end of the month assess the impact of the change or action. Has it been beneficial, has it been a positive experience with a positive outcome – if the answers are yes you will probably be happy to keep going and if not that’s ok too it might not have been the right change to make for you at this time.
Habits are formed over time, some quicker than others however at the end of each month it will become more routine and less effort. Introducing one thing every month will allow you to explore lots of different activities and ways of life over the year easing the pressure of bombarding your mind and body at all once and reducing the chances of success.
Here are some examples of some easy challenges for the next 12 months you might like to take up:
Get out walking for 30 minutes a day – the fresh air and exercise will energise you and blow away any blues, boost your metabolism and give you a healthy glow.
Add some healthy items to your diet – extra vegetables to your meals and munch on fruit instead of biscuits.
Spring is in the air so challenge yourself to decluttering at home and the workplace. Take a room or area at a time. You’ll feel great afterwards!
Get out of your comfort zone and join a class, learn a new skill, do something you’ve always wanted to.
Get ready for summer and clear out your wardrobe. Don’t hang onto items you know you are really never going to wear again or that simply do not fit anymore.
Make the most of the long evenings, get out for walks, runs, meet up with friends for a hike and boost your vitamin D levels.
Read a book – any book! If you’re on holiday even better and read two.
Think of a behaviour you would like to change or adopt and look at ways to achieve this and then practice, practice, practice.
Do a personal financial audit, where can you save, spend less and plan for the future.
Heading into wintertime and dark evenings is the perfect time to join an evening class or do some online learning.
Cut back on treats – chocolate, cakes, alcohol – December is usually a busy month!
It’s good to keep up as many of the positive habits you’ve formed over the year but it’s also a time to let loose and enjoy some over-indulgences too. And celebrate your achievements!
When tackling any big changes, which impact us emotionally and physically looking after our wellbeing is so important. Take it a month at time and reward your successes and manage any blips – and most importantly try not to give up or give in!
Ingrid O’Sullivan, Operations Manager