Nicola Morgan

Author, Speaker, Supporter

Understanding and Supporting Your Teenagers – few spaces left and I’m not doing it again!

Why you will break your resolutions – and how not to

New year, new you? But why would it be? Of course we try to start the year full of hope but hope on its own doesn’t get us anywhere. We also have to take certain actions. So people make a resolution, believing that that’s an action. It’s not. It’s just an expression of hope. It makes it absolutely no more likely to come true than if you didn’t make the resolution at all.

  • (I hope) I will exercise more
  • (I hope) I will eat more healthily
  • (I hope) I will use social media less
  • (I hope) I will not lose my temper so easily

What you need is to make the right resolutions in the right way and embed certain specific actions within those resolutions.

The old cliché – which, like most clichés, is full of truth – is that your resolution, like any goal, should be “SMART”. There are some slightly different interpretations of what SMART stands for but here’s the one that works for me:

S for Specific – so, not vague, like “exercise more” but concrete, like “Learn to run with Couch 2 5k” or “walk to school instead of getting the bus”

M for Measurable – not “exercise more” but “exercise for at least 40 minutes four times a week” or “walk at least 11k steps every day”

A for Achievable – not “go to sleep by 9.30 every night” but “get into bed and switch my screens off by 9.30 every night”; not “never eat a takeaway” but “only eat a takeaway twice a month”; not “exercise every day” if that would be too much for your body

R for Relevant – this is more personal to you and harder to think of general examples for but it’s about choosing a goal that is right for you. For example, your desire to eat more healthily might be about the fact you’ve got a habit of snacking on salty/fatty/sugary food and you know you take that a bit too far, so your resolution could be about eating some fresh fruit or vegetable sticks instead; whereas someone else might be about adding more fruit and veg into the diet.

Time-measurable – not “use social media less” but “spend no more than ten minutes on social media before doing homework”; not “exercise more” but “exercise for an hour three times a week and half an hour the other days”

But….this is NOT enough!

You need the secret ingredient: actions to make your resolutions STICKY. If you only set SMART resolutions, even if you get the wording exactly right for you, you are still likely to fail. So you need to take some simple steps to make your resolutions sticky. To make them easy. It’s never a good idea to make things harder for yourself.

How to make your resolutions sticky

It depends on your resolutions so you’ll need to look at each of them and work out what actions would make them easier for you. Here are some ideas:

  • Write them down – put the list where you can see it. Could be on your bedroom door, inside the cover of your school diary/notebook; inside your pencil case; as the wallpaper of your phone.
  • Tell your friends/family – anyone you trust to support you.
  • Do it with someone else – different friends might be interested in different resolutions.
  • Make a chart to record your successes.
  • Set alerts on your phone to remind you.
  • If exercise is your goal, consider signing up to any of the free but excellent exercise sites, such as Joe Wicks on YouTube or the super-successful NHS Couch to 5k (which turned me from non-runner to 100km a monther!) Or pay a small amount to support a fitness professional such as on Daily Om – I do the 4-minute metabolism booster which builds strength in various muscle groups in only 4 minutes at a time. There’s so much free and paid online – just spend some time choosing one that suits you and lake sure the logins are loaded and easy to find on your device. You do not want to spend 15 minutes trying to find the workout you want!
  • If using social media less is your goal, think about apps that block – Freedom is one of the best-known; it does have a cost but it can be used by the whole family so it might be acceptable? (It’s currently $3.33 a month or $79.99 one-off cost forever.)
  • If eating more healthily is your goal, invest some time in thinking what foods will help you achieve that and see about how you can make sure the right items are easily to hand.
  • If drinking more water is your goal, keep a bottle of chilled water close at hand whenever possible and certainly while you’re working.
  • Plan to get the resolution done early in the day if possible.
  • Don’t stress when you miss a day or a week – you will sometimes.
  • Invest time – spend effort planning and you’ll be less likely to give in.
  • Invest money, if you can and if appropriate – for example, if you buy a piece of exercise kit, you might feel more desire to use it and enjoy the activity more. (But never spend more than you can afford as this would put too much pressure.)
  • Adapt your goals as you go – upwards or downwards.

Start tomorrow – but start planning today. Make your lists and charts, decide your necessary actions, enlist your friends and set your alerts. Send this post to the friends who will join you on the journey to a better year.

One final piece of advice: don’t take on too many challenges. ONE change to your life, sustained over weeks and months, is better than a load of goals that you forget to stick to.

Go for it! 2023 will only be better than 2022 if you take actions to control the things you can control! I wish you luck and health because that will make it all easier. But you can still make those changes, even against the odds.

Next week, I’ll have something to share with you – something you can join in with if you like. Plus news of this year’s books from my keyboard. And soon I’ll tell you about a little project you might be interested in, especially if you know a teenager you’d like to show your love and support for with a unique gift.

Do comment but please remember that this site is for all ages.


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