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5 ways to ensure you stick to your New Year’s resolution

The New Year has arrived and if you’re like most people, you’ve probably had time to think about the year that was, as well as the year to come.

Gone is the busy pre-Christmas work period and what can be, for many people, a stressful Christmas Day family get-together.

Now it’s time to look ahead. Every New Year, loads of people decide they want change. They settle on a New Year’s resolution. Except, so many resolution don’t work out. What is that?


5 ways to make that New Year’s resolution actually work for you

Change is difficult. If it wasn’t, more people would do it and improve their lives. Indeed, northern Queensland exceeds the national average in the obesity rate, the proportion of people who are daily smokers, and the rate of people who live with a lifetime alcohol risk.

Change can be difficult for many reasons. Here are some tips on how to make it happen.


1) Decide on specific goals

Do you want to be healthier this year? That’s a great goal, but it’s not specific. If you want to change, you need to know exactly what you want to change.

Instead of thinking “I am going to eat healthier”, think what you’ll do and how you’ll do it. For example, setting out to eat vegetables four times a week and buying fruit instead of snacks at the supermarket is easier to do than “I’m going to eat less junk food”.


2) And decide on realistic goals

Most change starts with the best of intentions. And while deciding to start can be easy, committing to it can be the challenge.

To reach a goal, it has to be attainable. Set yourself an unrealistic goal and it’s easy to be discouraged and demoralised.

Change is more likely to happen if you have realistic expectations. So make your goals ones that you believe you can stick to. By all means you should challenge yourself, but don’t set the bar so high that you’ll struggle to reach it.


3) And start with one thing at a time

Like almost everyone, there are probably several things you want to improve. From health and diet to social life and fixing up those DIY jobs, everyone wants to be a better version of themselves.

Like setting realistic individual goals, you should also set a realistic overall number of goals. Otherwise, it can feel overwhelming.


4) And do ask for help

It’s hard enough as it is to change a bad habit. Doing it on your own is even harder. So don’t be afraid to ask your friends and family for their support.

If you want to change something that you’ve been doing (or not doing), then talk it out. For example, most smokers would like to be able to quit, but talking about the physical and emotional challenges can put things in perspective and help make it easier.

Ask your family or a close friend not to judge you, and ask them to be understanding and encouraging.

Even better, if it’s something you both want to do (such as eating better or losing weight), see if they want to make the change with you.

And if you need further support or you’re struggling with stress and worry, why not talk to an NQ Connect counsellor? NQ Connect offers 24 7 free phone counselling to people in northern Queensland.


5) And reward yourself for the right reasons

A reward is a great motivator and a way to make the change feel more worthwhile. A takeaway coffee or a small online purchase are great reminders of why you’re doing something.

Just don’t make your reward the very thing you’re trying to change (e.g. chocolate if you’re trying to lose weight, or “just one” smoke if you’re trying to quit). The temptation can prove overwhelming.

The longer you stick with your new habit, the sooner it will start to feel like it’s a natural and normal part of daily life. It’s called positive reinforcement and it’s a great way to stay on track.


Need help? You can find support services in northern Queensland or complete a self-administered K10 test for depression and anxiety. You can also join the online mental health forum to talk with like-minded people.