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Wellbeing / Health & wellbeing

The resolution solution

80% of resolutions are broken within a month, or so we’re told. How do you go about making sticky resolutions? Here’s my solution.

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Resolutions are front of mind in January but are in fact a part of a process. I believe you need to understand where you are in the decision-making journey if you are to bring about lasting change.

Supposing you’ve decided to get fit this year, let’s look at a description of the likely mental process.

You start off being unconsciously unhealthy simply carrying on as you are, without analysing any habits. You probably feel discontent that manifests as sluggishness, mood swings or even outright anger, but are unable to articulate what’s up.

Before change can occur you need to ‘wake up’ and become consciously unhealthy. That’s where the tradition of making New Year resolutions comes in handy. The self analysis it provokes gives you an opportunity to skip over the ‘unconsciously unhealthy’ bit. You haven’t changed your habits yet, but you know you need to.

"Before change can occur you need to ‘wake up’ and become consciously unhealthy."

The consciously healthy awakening can come about at other times of the year, for example when you try on clothes that no longer fit, or when you run out of breath on a short incline. It’s the ‘something’s up here’ trip wire.

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Next comes consciously healthy. The new diet and exercise regime is adopted and followed. Enthusiasm at this stage is important, but I reckon the harder you go here, the less likely you are to create lasting change.

Why? Because the aim is to become unconsciously healthy, whereby the changes made are part of your lifestyle long term and not just a fad for when you had a heap of holiday time to dedicate to daily, hour-long exercise sessions, for instance.

Of course the unhealthy/healthy wording can be changed to uninspired/inspired, unproductive/productive just about any pairing of words you can think of.

Noel Ranger’s entertaining out of office message states “During the break I will firmly resolve to do all sorts of things like ‘charge you what I’m worth’, ‘say no to unreasonable demands’, ‘stop working at night’, ‘ yada yada, however rest assured I’ll be back to my old habits by Australia Day.”

To stop the same happening to you, my advice is to take the long term view and start new habits that will slot into your lifestyle on an ongoing basis. If you doubt your tenacity, get accountable to a friend, business buddy, coach or to the friendly and supportive Flying Solo community by posting a comment online.

Or if you’ve succeeded in sticking to your resolutions, tell us the techniques you used to bring about lasting change.

Sam Leader

is a former director of Flying Solo and the co-author of Flying Solo - How to go it alone in business.

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