New Year’s Resolution.

Regardless of what resolution you commit to, the goal is to improve life in the coming year. It’s a tradition that goes back to 153 BC….and we have been making, keeping and breaking them ever since.

2018 is fast approaching and my mind is turning to what resolution to make…..and my thoughts immediately go to why 2017’s resolution, for me, has proved so transformative, in the hope it will provide guidance for 2018.

On 1st January 2017 I gave up alcohol for a year…..and while I have stuck to resolutions in the past, and certainly the health related ones I have managed to keep for good parts of any year, this has definitely been the most successful resolution yet. Why was it so successful and why did it work?

It was:

  • Simple… “Give up alcohol for a year” – 6 words, nothing complicated about it….no long lists of shortcomings to conquer.
  • Clearly defined… No need to think about whether I was breaking my resolution under any given circumstance, the resolution was unequivocal…..not a vague hope but a clear goal. Having an end date made it easier to commit….it didn’t need to be forever, so it seemed easier to do.
  • Achievable… I did really think about whether I could do this before I committed to it. Which events would be happening and how my resolution would affect my year. Setting an unachievable goal is demotivating and bad for your self esteem….don’t set yourself up to fail.
  • Considered – I initially dismissed the idea as being too hard – and that in itself made me consider it again. I spent a good part of December weighing up my decision.
  • Important – the benefits weren’t trivial or silly, and this made sticking to it seem a priority.
  • Memorable – perhaps because it seemed like such a big thing before I started, it was front and centre in my mind so often that it became habitual really quickly.
  • Measurable – a black and white resolution with no shades of grey, made measuring success easier.
  • Easily tracked – I tracked my success daily – with a simple habit tracker app. No judgement calls required – I had on a daily basis, succeeded – and the longer the winning streak, the less likely I was to break it.
  • Public – I told as many people as possible, so failing would be obvious to others. Support from others comes as a double bonus.
  • Good for me – being able to see & feel the benefits made the resolution self rewarding.
  • Beneficial for those around me – opening a dialogue with and influencing others – particularly my children, made it doubly rewarding.
  • It only required willpower – no complicated or expensive equipment stood in my way…no reliance on others, no gym membership or favourable conditions. Just me.
  • Success breeds success – the adage that willpower is a muscle that you can exercise has proved true. Giving up alcohol successfully paved the way to me giving up sugar…and THAT has been completely transformative!

Lot’s of people have asked me whether I will be rushing to open the gin or pop open the Prosecco on New Year’s Day and what my plans for alcohol consumption is for the coming year. I have answered honestly “I don’t know”…..pretty sure I won’t be rushing to get bladdered…I am also pretty sure that NOT drinking will be my default position….but that there will be events that I join the majority in a glass of something stronger than water. I haven’t yet decided what event will be first to break my dry spell….as my social calendar fills with Birthday & wedding celebrations, trips away and meetings with friends & family, I don’t have a plan. I have become much more conscious of the social pressures to drink, the subtle normalisation of something that is inherently bad for you & your health….and I will continue to bore people with the benefits of giving yourself a substantial break from your current drinking patterns. It really hasn’t been as hard as people think….and I missed it only on a handful of occasions, whilst saving money, feeling healthier and sleeping better. I’ve learned a lot about myself this year….and don’t intend to throw that away.

So what can I resolve for 2018. I started this blog with a short list of possibilities….and honestly, I’m no further forward. My possibilities…..Vegetarianism/veganism? Volunteering? Removing negative influences? Trying new things? Writing? Being more organised? Spending less time on Social Media? These ideas are a mix of health, improvement and growth & all will bring benefits ….but at this point some don’t seem as achievable or others as measurable. None fit as well with my reasons for 2017’s success. I remind myself that this time last year I was also in a dilemma – with cutting out alcohol a massive idea that I wasn’t sure I could commit to.

I was tempted to scrap the blog because it hasn’t revealed to me a clear path for 2018….nor come to any conclusion….but has helped me to order my thoughts, maybe inspiration will come….maybe what seems unachievable will be what I need to work towards….in smaller goals…maybe 2018’s Resolution needs to be less perfect for me and that’s ok!

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