It’s that time of year again; the end of December is a brilliant period to reflect on your progress and achievements over the past 12 months, and set yourself new goals and visions for the year ahead – be that for your career, personal life or overall lifestyle.

Unfortunately, the majority of clients I see often equate the concept of New Year resolutions with arbitrary weight loss goals based around image – the same ones they’ve made every year for the past five years with no luck.

It’s natural to want to have a health kick following the traditional season of excess – but what’s not healthy is expecting that being thinner by the end of the next year will make you happier.

Look at your previous year’s attempts

When making a New Year fitness resolution, it’s best to start by look at your previous year’s resolutions, what you did to try and achieve it, whether or not it worked and if not why. I usually get my clients to write these down in a graph so it’s very clear.

Looking at weight loss goals from this perspective is often a big reality check for my clients – we have to learn from our past mistakes with fitness, just like we do with our career and other important areas of life.

Context is everything

When setting a goal and looking at your track record, look at your “primary food”; that is, the set of fundamental factors that affect your mindset: relationships, work life, spirituality.

Realistically your “internal environment” is the most important contributing factor to whether or not you achieve your goals, and as such, any targets you make should be tailored to this.

For example; if you’ve recently gone through a bad breakup and are telling yourself getting a supermodel “revenge body” will sort out everything, try to think about what will truly help your internal environment instead; trying out a new kind of exercise to make new friends and boost self esteem would be a much more productive way to look at it.

Next steps

Now that you’ve looked at your past year’s successes or failures and your internal environment, it’s time to rethink those New Year Resolutions.

Firstly, try to think of an overarching lifestyle related goal that would really help you day to day, but try be specific. We all want to be “healthy”, but focus on all the different factors we look at as part of the overall picture of health: a reduction of stress and anxiety, improved self esteem, more energy, or better performance in your favourite hobby or sport if you have one.

Next, break down this larger goal into incremental monthly changes that will help bring you closer to this end result, and from there you can look at your weekly goals.

For example, if you wanted to have more energy, your first monthly January goal could be “reduce alcohol consumption”. Easy weekly targets from here could be: “have four consecutive days with no alcohol at all”, which will help you make daily decisions like “skip the work drinks I don’t really want to go to anyway”. When your colleagues are all hungover and struggling the next day, you will notice how comparatively great you feel, which in turn will motivate you to continue pursuing your goal.

Breaking down your New Year’s Resolution into a smaller, achievable day by day to-do list will not only help you feel less overwhelmed, but will motivate you to keep going each time you achieve every small target.

Good luck and happy 2019!