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Every January, the gyms are full and everyone has self-improvement on the mind. And if that works for you, great. But for many people February starts with the crushing realisation that your diet didn?t stick, your gym membership gets as much use as your blockbuster card and the guitar you got for Christmas is gathering dust. And what?s more it?s absolutely freezing! And what happens all too often is we hit the skids. Give it all up and hit those late winter blues. So why is it that these regimes so often fail?

Realistic Goals

It?s important to set goals that you can achieve. Goals based on your own values not anybody else?s. Ask yourself what you want to achieve, and why you want to achieve it. It?s often useful to write out what the main obstacles you might come up against in pursuing this goal so they don?t catch you by surprise.

?Failure?

No matter what your plans are, you will encounter setbacks. Whether that?s your gym flooding or giving in and eating a whole family trifle to yourself, it?s how you respond to these set back that?s important. The point you fail is when you give up. Setbacks are not failure. It?s not back to square one. It?s three steps forward, one step back. And that is still progress.

Self-Compassion

This is the key to success. More important than anything is that you enjoy the journey. And you?ll never enjoy the process of change if you spend the whole time kicking lumps out of yourself.

Using Spring as a Springboard

Last year, I tried a new model of self-improvement with self-compassion at its core. It acknowledges that weather and a lack of sunlight has a huge effect on our wellbeing. 29% of people feel the effects of Seasonal Affective Disorder so why add a ton of pressure on ourselves during the most difficult time of the year. So New Years resolutions start when spring starts. The only goal I have for January is to get through it. Zero pressure. Then towards the end of February I start to take action, starting slowly on my goals so that I am fully engaged in my resolutions by March. This means that you start to feel the benefit of your new regime as the weather changes. Then not only have you gotten through winter without descending into seasonal depression, you?ve used spring as a springboard to get the most out of the year. You feel happier, healthier, and hey, it?s sunny outside. This might sound like taking it easy on yourself, but my experience is that this massively improves my chance sticking to my resolutions. It?s not for everyone, but if ?New Year, New Me? doesn?t work for you, maybe this will.

By Josh Elton, Valleys Steps Course Practitioner