Happy New Year!  So, how are you getting on with your New Year resolutions?  Still on track?  Fantastic, well done!  Fallen by the wayside?  Well you’re not alone.  Statistics show that the average time it takes a person to break a New Year’s resolution is two weeks to one month.  And by Valentine’s Day around 80% of New Year resolutions have been broken.

The funny thing is that we do this year after year.  We earnestly commit to lose weight, stop smoking, learn a foreign language, spend more time with our families, de-clutter our homes or offices, and so on, but before long we find ourselves falling back into old habits.

Of course failing to keep our New Year resolutions is a habit in itself.  Subconsciously, every time we set resolutions and then forget them, we are programming ourselves to repeat this habit every year.  We create a negative association with goal-setting and New Year.  We kind of expect to fail and, guess what, that’s exactly what happens.  Now, as a coach I spend much of my time helping clients work out their goals and then supporting them as they make their goals a reality.  So I could write about how to set goals that stick because they tap into inner needs and values, are articulated in positive language and are ‘ecological’ i.e. they are a good fit with you and your life.  But I am not going to do that.

Why not?  Well, I don’t know about you but I am not at my most resourceful in January.  As we pack away the Christmas decorations, spring seems an awful long way away.  And in these difficult times, fears about our jobs or those of other family members may loom large.  January is a long, dark, cold month with the renewal of spring a long way off.  Colds and flu abound and there’s no Strictly Come Dancing to look forward to on a Saturday night (OK I realise this might not apply to you).

Yet, just when we feel like snuggling up at home in our winceyette pyjamas with a glass of red wine or a bowl of chicken soup, we resolve to make huge changes to our lives or careers.  We may commit ourselves to a long list of New Year Resolutions that even the most fiercely organised and determined person would struggle to live up to.  And then, when we fail, we beat ourselves up and forget about say, losing weight until we try to cram ourselves into last year’s bikini sometime in mid-July.

So, rather than resolving to change everything about yourself, your life or your career, why not start a new tradition?  Be kind to yourself.  Let yourself off the hook in January and give yourself permission to hibernate, to snuggle, to just ‘be’ rather than ‘do’.  Not for ever but for a few weeks at least.  You might even allow yourself a few treats – a massage, lunch with a friend, the new paperback from your favourite author…..or whatever it is that cheers you up.

If you want to set yourself a challenge, why not ditch the resolutions and instead, ask yourself some really good reflective questions.  You might wish to come up with your own questions of course but, as a starter for ten, here are my suggestions:

“What in the past year have I outgrown?  What thoughts, beliefs, behaviours or friendships are no longer serving me well?  What can I allow to wither away here in January and what do I want to nurture, ready to blossom in the spring, and flourish in the months and years ahead?”

“A year from now, when I reflect on 2012, what will I be proud of and what will I regret?”  Imagine you have drifted forward into the future – into January 2013.  Now ask yourself, “As I look back over the past year, what advice does my older, wiser self offer to that younger self back in January 2012 – what would I advise them to do differently”

“If this is to be the last year of my life – how do I wish to spend my time and who do I wish to spend it with?”

Or as Mary Oliver, Pulitzer prize-winning poet put it:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
With your one wild and precious life?”

And when you have posed these questions to yourself, forget about them and let your subconscious do its work.  You may be surprised what emerges when you take the pressure off, tune into your intuition and focus on being kind to yourself. 

Happy snuggling!