The third Friday in January is known as Fail Friday; it’s the day when most people finally cave in and break their New Year’s Resolutions, after just three weeks of trying.
For many people, it involves caving in and having a chocolate biscuit or a glass of wine, while for others it’s the day they finally fail to drag themselves out of bed and go on that morning run they promised they’d do every day in 2017.
If you’re one of the people who’s caved in, fear not – it’s never too late to make new resolutions, and the following list may be slightly more achievable while still being beneficial to you and your family.
Food and drink
A promise you won’t touch alcohol for 12 months or that you’ll eat your 5-a-day for 365 consecutive days is just asking to be broken. Instead, think about how you can lower your consumption of one or increase the intake of the other in a way that doesn’t necessitate massive changes in your routine.
Rather than cutting out alcohol completely, promise to only drink once or twice a week, or make subtle changes to your favourite tipple. A slimline version of tonic, lemonade or cola will reduce calorie intake significantly. Rather than having a full plate of vegetables for every meal, gradually introduce them to meals such as shepherd’s pie, chilli or pies, and add fruit to your cereal or porridge to ensure you get your 5-a-day. If one day you only have 4, it’s fine – just aim for 6 the next day. There are no strict rules.
Fitness and exercise
Vowing to go to the gym every single day or get in shape to run the London Marathon in April is not only unrealistic, but can be dangerous. Pushing your body too hard, too quickly can increase the risk of injury and also be mentally taxing, making you even more likely to quit.
As with any activity, easing yourself into it is the best approach. Begin by going for a walk on an evening and ramp things up by either making the walk longer or lightly jogging the route to get your heart rate going. Doing something you enjoy also makes it easier to stick to your goals – swap the gym for the swimming pool if you prefer the breaststroke to barbells, and pull on your ice skates if you favour the rink over the running track.
Friends and family
Making time to see friends and family can be difficult if you have a busy work and home life, but anyone who says they don’t have time to do things is simply not managing their time properly. At the same time, promising that you’ll see your grandma every single Saturday can also be easily broken. Look at your daily or weekly routine and assess exactly what is necessary and what isn’t, and then replace these non-essentials with family and friend time.
Those 20 minutes browsing social media on your lunch break could be replaced with a Facetime call to your cousin. That 30-minute diversion on your way home from work could be livened with a phone conversation with an old school friend. Whenever you unexpectedly have a few minutes spare, a text message can brighten a person’s day and also encourage them to return the favour in times of need.
Travel and tourism
If your bucket list includes seeing the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Great Barrier Reef and the Great Wall of China, vowing to see them all in one year is far from a Great Idea. While globetrotting like Phileas Fogg sounds wonderful, it’s not always possible when family and work commitments and financial restrictions are taken into account
Instead, think long term; resolutions can last years, not just 12 months. Look at the calendar and work out when are the most feasible – and cheapest – times to plan your trips, even if this is years in advance. There are plenty of wonders close to home, so fill the time between expensive holidays by exploring Stonehenge, marvelling at the White Cliffs of Dover and walking around Lake Windermere.
Setting yourself unrealistic goals can be damaging in the long term, as it breeds disappointment and can make you feel like you’ve let yourself down. On the contrary, conquering achievable aims can give you a huge confidence boost and the motivation to set new targets.
It’s important to always make time for yourself, and remember that resolutions don’t have to involve making a dramatic life change or setting a world record. One of the easiest resolutions is also the most effective – try to allocate some ‘me time’ every day. Whether it’s reading a few chapters of a book, enjoying a cup of tea away from the hustle and bustle or a long walk with the dog, the little things in life can make all the difference.