New Year's resolutions — is this your year? Rebecca Mauger looks at these well-intended goals, if they work, and how to actually stick to them.
2021 is going to be Naomi Wise's year.
Like many, she views the new year as a fresh start — a time to work out what matters, to set goals and work towards them.
Naomi (Nomes) made two resolutions at midnight on New Year's Eve; one — to lose weight, two — to gain fulltime employment.
The 28-year-old from Bellevue was working hard on her targets last year but Covid-19 meant the end of one job and the derailment of her weight loss goals.
Now she's back on track and more determined than ever.
She plans to lose 15kg-20kg.
"I need to make these goals, and pure determination will help me achieve them. This is my year."
Unfortunately, medication to curb her epilepsy makes it harder for her to lose weight.
"It requires about five times more effort for me to lose weight than others," she says.
At her heaviest, she weighed 126kg but dropped 20kg last year.
Gaining employment had also been difficult when she was unable to drive (she has been seizure-free for four years and is now allowed to drive).
Wise started working with a cleaning company in October with a view to fulltime employment. Cleaning also helps her fitness goals.
"I love my job. I lost 5kg when I first started and I do about 15,000 steps a day. I don't think of it as working, I think of it as being paid to lose weight."
She has adjusted her eating habits and joined a gym already this year.
She is realistic — she's not aiming for perfection.
"I'm trying hard to lose weight, so it got me down when someone recently asked me if I was pregnant. It's just mean. So I'm trying to turn that negative comment into a positive and use it for motivation to lose weight.
"But I still really like my butt and my boobs, I don't want them to go."
How to succeed
Rotorua life coach Annie Canning is not a fan of New Year's resolutions.
She points to the statistics.
"Studies show that New Year's resolutions have about an 80 per cent failure rate and most people have flagged them by mid-February. So no, not a fan."
Resolutions are broad and not specific enough or the wording of the resolution is couched in negative terms, Canning says, so the brain will do everything it can to sabotage success.
"People are seldom specific enough with regard to the outcomes they desire, and without a clear and specific outcome, combined with a solid plan of action, they are doomed to fail."
But if you have set yourself some New Year challenges and want to make them stick — Canning has some tips for you.
• Set SMART goals – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound. Smart goals require a higher level of detail.
• Make sure your goals excite and inspire you.
"If you are not inspired it is hard to sustain the effort required to achieve the goal."
• Writing down your goals will help you clarify what you are setting out to achieve "and energetically you are physically bringing a thought into the three-dimensional world, which is a powerful act".
• Manage your goals. Break down your goals into small manageable chunks and create a clear pathway of action towards the achievement of the goal.
• Accountability. Share your goals with a friend, a coach, a work colleague, someone who will hold you to account.
• Reward yourself. "The very act of recognising your achievements supports your psychology and physiology. Celebrating your successes reinforces this behaviour in your brain, and triggers a biochemical response. Your brain will enjoy the sensation and will set itself up to support further success moving forward. So, in the planning stage, identify what reward you will give yourself when you achieve your goal."
• Develop systems and habits. Put in a system or routine that supports you. If your end goal is to run a marathon, you will need to create a training routine. Do one thing every day to move towards your goal. This applies to business as well as personal goals.
• Above all, be kind to yourself and cut yourself some slack. "When you fall over, pick yourself up and get back into it without recrimination or criticism."
Opt for value-based goal setting
Tauranga psychologist Kate Ferris believes the psychology behind New Year's resolutions is faulty.
"Resolutions are often not structured in a way that leads to sustainable behaviour change because they often lack a consideration of the 'why' behind our behaviours. In addition, they often fail to address motivation, obstacles and accountability.
"Changing familiar personal behaviours or adding new, unfamiliar ones is hard. Our behaviour is embedded in complex psychological, social and neurocircuitry systems. It's a product of personality, temperament, emotional and physical needs, learned experience and neurochemical feedback loops beyond our awareness."
Ferris advocates for value-based goal setting, which involves reflecting on how you want to feel and what values you want to embody.
"For example, instead of saying I want to lose 10kg, I would identify that I want to feel healthier and more comfortable in my body."
Ferris says it is great to strive to better ourselves and make our lives more awesome but it is equally important to hold fast to the knowledge that you are enough — just as you are.
Health and fitness are often top of the resolution-making list and gyms get a jump in new clients in January.
Tauranga Box Health and Fitness owner Chris Walker says long-term fitness goals are the dream.
"The old saying, if you always do what you've always done, you'll always get what you've always got. If you want more, make some changes, set goals long term."
People join gyms as they want something different to help them achieve their goals, he says.
"But resolutions fail if you don't set proper goals, not sticking at it long enough to create exercise a habit and under-valuing the importance of health and fitness."
Budgeting - take control and plan ahead
Tauranga Budget Advisory Service manager Shirley McCombe likens New Year's resolutions to fad diets.
"People start enthusiastically but then struggle to keep them up. If you want to take control of your finances, it takes planning and structure as well as discipline."
With 2021 in the early stages, McCombe advises people to take a fresh look at their finances.
"Many people we see are wasting money that they could be saving, for example, being on an incorrect phone or power plan. Many people are paying for services they no longer use such as insurance of vehicles sold.
"They are not planning ahead – so every bill is a nasty surprise. Because they do not plan, they end up borrowing from high-cost lenders.
"Most of all – there is a struggle to prioritise needs over wants."
People are often uncomfortable with the idea of taking a close look at their finances, McCombe says.
"The fact is that taking control and having a plan reduces not only unnecessary expense but hugely reduces stress and anxiety. Services like ours a completely free and available to everyone."
Ten popular New Year's resolutions
1. Lose weight and get fit.
2. Spend more time with family.
3. Visit friends more.
4. Increase wealth.
5. Eat healthy food.
6. Quit smoking.
7. Drink less alcohol.
8. Take more opportunities.
10. Join a club/take on a hobby.
If you're looking for self-improvement, consider these belated goals for the new year.
• Learn a new skill, less screen time, read more, complain less, volunteer, drink more water, get organised, relax, meditate, create a garden, give to the less fortunate, save for a trip, create a cleaning routine, walk the dog more, revamp your wardrobe, spend more time outside, and start weight training.