So Christmas has come and gone, New Years came and went and now its Printthe countdown to summer. It normally starts with a New Years resolution – I’m going to eat less, I’m going to stop binge drinking or I’m going to exercise more. Fantastic idea and I wish you all the luck in the world but the fact is that only 8% of people reach their goals! So nine out of ten will NOT get the results they want.

Cancer research and several other charities are currently doing a fund raiser asking people to “go dry for January,” and a couple of my clients have taken it up. Looking at the statistics almost all manage the month with a few finding it too hard and some people having the odd slip up once or twice. Now this is a little different to a New Years resolution but it got me thinking about the differences and how to alter the way you think or tackle your resolution.

The first and biggest difference is the time frame – one month vs. a whole year.

It’s not too hard to imagine where we will be in a months time, plans set in place and thinking of doing something – like cutting out alcohol – for this amount of time may sound like a struggle but we can easily count down the days.

So in our resolutions, maybe setting a target that needs to be done every day is too much… To start with at least. Humans are creatures of habit and in general we don’t like change, this is a marathon not a sprint! Pace yourself and set smaller targets. If you have set a goal of running a marathon but have spent the last ten years as a couch potato, getting up Jan 1st running 5 miles and doing the same the next day and the next will soon kill your enthusiasm. Day 1 try a jog, see what you can manage. Day 2 – research, have a look online speak to friends or a PT and see what would be realistic goals for where you are now and where you plan on getting. Lets say you can manage a 3 mile run, thinking about another 23 miles after that may seem impossible and can lead to people giving up. Giving up, not trying can be easier than trying and failing, then having to tell people you weren’t good enough when they ask how you got on. So don’t think about that final goal! You managed a 3 mile run and that’s great. Set a target for next week/month, the most obvious being a longer distance maybe 5 or 6 miles. The following month maybe stick with 6 miles but work on improving your time try some fartlek training, hill sprints or interval training. If you can keep it interesting your chances get better and if you start to enjoy it your chances really improve.

The next difference I want to talk about is team work.

The “dry for January campaign” lets you sign up as a team and your New Years resolution is normally an individual thing. Try and find a friend, join a fitness class, running group whatever fits your goals. Having somebody with you not only keeps up your spirits through the tough times but also gives you responsibility. It’s cold outside, I’ve got work to catch up on, the dogs happy chewing on my trainers and i don’t want to disturb him – people are very good at making excuses and if there is something we don’t want to do we can come up with anything to justify it. This is true for any aspect of life not just fitness. Having somebody with you, relying on you can help. It may be freezing out there but as humans we like to be known as reliable, trustworthy people so will turn up if we said we will… This is not fool proof. One note on this is try to avoid having your best friend or husband/wife as a training partner. You and your best mate are probably better known for drunken nights messing about rather than a strict training regime and most people think their partner will understand if something “more important” crops up.

Lastly it needs to be something that’s going to be on your mind. Most people simply forget their New Years resolution and by this point (a week after new years) 25% of people have already given up. After a month this drops to almost 50% that have quit. If i set a goal of walking 15 thousand paces a day it would constantly be on my mind and after a while this would become habit. If on the other hand I decided my goal was to stop saying the word ‘green’ it’s not something that I’m going to constantly be thinking about and more likely to slip up. If it’s on your mind it will become embedded into your way of life and isn’t that what a New Years resolution is all about?

Steve