Making Effective New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of the year when you take stock, and realise you want to change some of your habits. Perhaps you want to get fitter, to lose weight, or to be more effective in your business next year. You might want to be bolder and more adventurous, or to learn something new. You might want to get more healthy and manage stress better.

Whatever it is you wish to change, you need to create goals and resolutions, to tell your brain your intentions.

Here are some tips on how to make effective resolutions:

Be Positive

If you want to stop smoking or to lose weight, don’t make your resolution “I will stop smoking” or “I will lose weight.” Psychologists tell us that telling your brain what you DON’T want only reinforces that habit.

Your brain will accept change better when you phrase your resolution positively, e.g. “I will breathe fresh air deeply into my lungs every day,” or “I will be trim and fit, and look great in my clothes.”

Visualise the Change

Imagine what you will be like when the change has been made. Imagine those trim abs or butt, that beautiful tan, your smooth skin once you have stopped smoking.

Align to Your Values

Only make resolutions about what you truly  want and need – and not because of fashion or fad. If the resolution doesn’t align with your values, you will have internal conflict, and will abandon the resolution quickly.

If you want to change a habit, try to connect with strong values that will drive the change. For instance, if you want to stop smoking, you can think of being healthy and alive for your children and grandchildren.

Make the Changes Gradual

Don’t make too many changes at a time. Do them one by one. For example change your diet first, then exercise more, then start a yoga practice, etc. If you are trying to juggle too many changes, you will give them up very quickly.

If you are stopping something, such as smoking or drinking coffee, try to do it gradually, halving the amount every day until you are not having any.

Substitute Something Positive

When cutting down something, such as sweets and cakes, substitute something else, such as fruits and nuts. Otherwise you will feel a void, and be tempted to fill it with the things you are trying to cut down!

Review Your Progress

At the end of the day, review how you have done. Did you achieve your goal? Were you tempted not to? Did you give in to temptation? How did you feel when that happened and what were your thoughts? How can you do better the next day?

When you succumb to temptation, don’t beat yourself up about it. Try to understand why you did so, and how you could avoid it next time. Then resolve to follow your resolution again the next day!

Celebrate Your Successes

When you have made your changes, pat yourself on the back. It is really important to acknowledge your achievements, as this will set you up for more successes in the future.

You Can Change!

Yes, you can change and you can achieve your goals and resolutions! Make your goals achievable, keep reviewing to stay on track, try to understand your thought processes that cause you to stumble and plan how to overcome them.

People say you can change habits in 21 days, or 30 days, or 40 days. It probably depends on the habit you are changing, and how long you have had it, and the commitment you have to the change. Some people stop smoking instantly, and never smoke again – that is the power of their commitment.

Best wishes for the New Year, and may your resolutions come to pass!


Meet the Author

Dr Priya Punjabi

Dr. Priya Punjabi is a ranked Ayurvedic practitioner in New Zealand, having represented the nation on National TV and at the International Health Convention. Dr. Punjabi earned her Bachelor of Ayurvedic Medicine and Surgery (BAMS) degree in 1989, at the prestigious University of Pune, under the Tilak Ayurveda Mahavidyalaya School.