Don’t put yourself under enormous pressure as we enter a new year

A brief post this week, to coincide not just with a new year but a new decade.

We have suddenly arrived at that time of year when people start to consider what changes they’d like to make within their lives. I’m not a huge fan of the concept of New Year’s Resolutions, primarily as they rarely work over a sustained period of time. Quite often we are our own worst enemies, putting ourselves under enormous pressure to make significant changes to our lives which, quite often, just aren’t achievable. The difficulty is that making significant changes isn’t easy, otherwise many of us would be doing it on a frequent basis. Changing habits and the way in which we live our lives on a day-to-day basis just doesn’t come naturally to us and is incredibly difficult to achieve.

So, in a nutshell, please don’t set yourself ridiculously lofty resolutions which will be nigh-on possible to achieve and sustain over a lengthy period of time, all whilst placing a huge amount of pressure on yourself. There is enough strain and pressure in most of our lives anyway without us making it worse by ramping it up with unachievable aims.

When it  comes to making changes, do what you feel is right and feasible. If you want to exercise more, just take a few initial steps jogging and gradually build that up rather than telling yourself you’re going to run the London Marathon this year. See how it feels. Hopefully it will be good and you’ll want to continue without feeling obliged to work towards a nigh-on impossible goal that may actually do you more harm than good. If you want to increase your chances of landing a new job, take an online course or two, or highlight the gaps in your knowledge and experience and do your best to address them over a sensible period of time, rather than telling yourself you’ll be working for a new company by the summer whilst earning 25% more money than you are currently. Keep things relatively sensible and don’t turn the screw on yourself. If you want to take up a new hobby, conduct a little research. Perhaps speak to people already doing what it is you want to do to understand the initial steps you’ll need to take to get you on the right track. Don’t tell yourself that you’ll be an expert in the field by this time next year. Keep your goals realistic and achievable. It will be wonderful if you exceed your expectations and whilst that is certainly a possibility, it won’t be an issue in the slightest if you make gradual rather than rapid progress. Frame of mind is key in achieving success in any pursuit and you really can help yourself in this regard.

Additionally, if you are thinking of making changes, and especially if you write them down somewhere, please don’t place them under a ‘new year’s resolutions’ heading. List them as your objectives or life goals. Break them down into real, actionable, bite-sized chunks. Remember that it is human to experience highs and lows along the way. If you want to lose weight, you will have weeks where you’ll put a pound or two on rather than losing. That’s life – don’t beat yourself up and move on to the next week with renewed enthusiasm in your heart. If you want to start running, there will be days when you can’t be bothered jogging around the block. If that is the case, don’t bother going. But please don’t beat yourself up about it. Accept it as a sign of being normal and move on to the next week with a renewed sense of vigour. If you want to learn a new hobby or skill, please remember that there will be some days/weeks/months when the progression isn’t as swift as it might previously have been. That’s life – don’t beat yourself up and move on to the next week with a willingness to learn in your heart. Any lifestyle change should result in a positive outcome – I can’t think of a single instance where anyone I know has set themselves a goal that will have a negative impact on their life – and it is vitally important that we have the desire and drive to continue working toward those goals. This becomes considerably easier when we acknowledge, understand and accept that there will be peaks and troughs along the way. The phrase ‘it’s a marathon, not a sprint’ really does apply here. Please also ensure that your state of mind is good and your confidence doesn’t take a battering due to unrealistic expectations.

Thanks for reading, take care and may 2020 (and beyond) prove to be healthy, happy and fruitful for you.

Best wishes,

Mick

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