So we’re nearly at the end of January. We’ve passed the apparent, so-called “most depressing day of the year” and the home stretch is in sight. How are you doing? How are you getting on with the ‘new you’? I mean you are a new person now, right? You changed your body, habits, schedule, personality and diet overnight on the 31st of December didn’t you?
The truth is, if anyone promises that you can be a ‘new you’ you should think very seriously about what they are actually asking of you. What exactly is wrong with the old you? What is wrong with the you that worked hard, tried your best, faced problems, had triumphs, was loved and has been lovely for the last year? And probably all the years before that? Actually, thinking about it, isn’t suggesting that you need to be a ‘new you’ a bit insulting?!
Often the change we need to make isn’t who we are, but how we approach things. This is why this specific time of year is fraught with the pitfalls of feeling rubbish, feeling blue or seeing the good intentions of the New Year resolutions fall by the wayside by the end of January. There are a few reasons for this: trying to diet in the middle of midwinter, when in evolutionary terms our body is craving stodge to keep us warm; trying to push ourselves to exercise when our bodies want to hibernate; but none-so-much as the ritual of trying to change too much, too fast and setting ourselves up for failure.
We are not entirely to blame for this; many industries rely on this culture of ‘New Year New You’ to sell everything from self-help books to juicers. Advertisers are fantastic at creating guilt and then using that very guilt to sell us stuff.
We live in a world of the most toxic messages. In the run up to Christmas over-indulgence is almost demanded of us. There is a ‘nudge-nudge wink-wink’ meme culture encouraging us to splurge on food, drinking to excess, partying all night and spending money to our heart’s content. For six weeks of the year we are given a free pass to indulge. If we decline we are seen as the proverbial party pooper, Scrooge, the Grinch who stole the Christmas buffet. After working hard at your goals all year, keeping healthy, watching your waist, or your pennies or your energy levels, it’s as if a fairy godmother has come down to wave a wand and tell you that you can go to the ball, after all IT’S CHRISTMAS, you DESERVE IT.
However once the clock strikes midnight on January the first, like magic, that glittering carriage of chocolate, wine and Brie turns back into a pumpkin. An organic pumpkin, steamed, with a side of kale and a coconut water chaser, because goddamn it it’s January and IT’S TIME TO DETOX NOW! What follows is another six weeks of a new kind of message; one of denial, discipline, punishment, guilt, shame and strict change. All of a sudden, rather than being someone who ‘deserves’ a treat, we are encouraged to start the New Year with a ‘New You’. Have you ever taken a step back and looked at this strange fairy tale?
So how can we change the story? Well a good place to start is to take some time to think about all the things you like about the old you? What did you achieve last year? Perhaps you, like so many, had an atrocious 2016. How did you cope with it? How did you keep going? What do you like about yourself? What do your friends like about you (don’t know? Ask them! And tell them what you like about them)? Write lists of all the great things that happened last year and all that you are proud of. I promise you there will be more than you think.
Now if there are changes that you want to make this year, and that is absolutely fine, as setting goals, targets and motivating ourselves to be better, stronger, healthier and more happy is not a bad thing; then examine the way you make those goals. Rather than setting a punishing January schedule, or cutting out all habits and vices at once; how about taking a more measured approach to change? Neuroscience has proven that thanks to neuroplasticity we are more likely to make lasting changes through small sustainable changes than making big changes, which are likely to overwhelm our brains. Before setting goals ask yourself what is sustainable, what is realistic, what can I cope with comfortably so I am likely to maintain this new habit and build on it?
We are often encouraged in January to make grand gestures, often in the name of charity, with campaigns like Dry January and ‘Veganuary’; and to an extent these incentives are a great way of having a break, or trying a new health kick out for size. The problem is once the month is over returning to your habit or existing life-style with aplomb. I’ve already seen Facebook posts for events hailing the end of Dry January with a call to ‘make up for lost time’ and return to the sauce with relish. I’m not saying to not sign up for these initiatives; but if you’re looking to make a longer lasting change, then you need to work out a sustainable strategy for when the month is up.
So with this in mind, this February I am launching a new 10-day online course, which will be FREE to those signing up to my mailing list (Full-price: £110), which will help you to create smart, achievable goals in 2017 and how to achieve them. If you are looking for ways to keep your resolutions for good, then this course is for you. The course will feature hypnosis tracks and exercises to help you make sustainable and lasting changes. I am also available to see people one-to-one to help you make set better goals, and how to achieve them through coaching and hypnotherapy. For more information get in touch via my contact page.