We’ve all been there. You’ve spent an entire year determined to exercise every single morning before going to work or to start that hobby you used to be good at as a teenager, or to get 8 hours of sleep instead of 5 per night.

Every month you’ve said to yourself, ‘this is the month I turn myself into perfection’ and every month you’ve failed. And now? Another year's gone by, you’re in the same shape as you were 12 months ago, just as tired if not more and still not an expert in that hobby you were going to start up again. But hey…another year, another chance, right?

Have you ever wondered if your resolutions are a little extreme or just damn-right unachievable? Goals are good things don’t get us wrong, but – if they’re too extreme – they’re only going to have a negative impact. It’s high time we learnt to set goals that don’t set us up for failure, so we’ve put together some new year’s resolution ideas, by taking the top ten new year’s resolutions and making them much more achievable.

1. Exercise more

How to make it achievable
Anything involving exercise is a great New Year’s resolution. No natural medicine is better than the endorphins that are activated when your body gets moving. But convincing yourself you’re going to get up at 6am in the winter to go the gym or run 6 miles within 3 weeks is not the way to go about it. Think more along the lines of ‘Three times a week I’m going to go for a run and hopefully by the end of the 6 weeks I’ll be able to run 3 miles in a row’, or ‘On workdays I’m going to get off the bus earlier so I have a fifteen-minute walk to work’.

2. Lose weight

How to make it achievable
At one point or another in your lifetime you’ve likely been on a diet with the hope of losing weight. But how many times have you ‘eaten healthily’ for a week and then binged on junk food for the next? Losing weight is a sensitive subject that is personal to everyone. We all have wobbly bits we might not like but the thing to remember is just that – we all have them. And we’re not talking about the social media influencers that rely heavily on good genes, Photoshop and Instagram filters, we’re talking about the everyday person juggling their job with kids, stress, socialising and a lack of time for relaxation. When it comes to losing weight don’t be unkind to yourself and certainly don’t let your new year’s resolution be ‘I’m never going to eat cheese or drink wine ever again’. There are sensible and healthy ways to diet out there should you be looking achieve better health through weight loss, for example Cheats & Eats - a lifestyle programme designed to let you diet without the restrictions. A new year diet plan should be tailored to you and with Cheats & Eats this is entirely possible.

3. Eat more healthily

How to make it achievable
This is another resolution we can really get behind. When it comes to health and well-being a nutrient dense diet is the best armour you can wear. But telling yourself you’ll eat more healthily, period, is not the way forward. When you’ve got an entire family to cook for, or you’re running late to work, or you haven’t got the funds to buy 6 avocados as part of your weekly shop, set aims such as ‘I’m going to cook the correct portion size of carbohydrates for each meal’, or ‘I’ll allow myself one chocolate bar a week, but the rest of the days I’ll replace it for a healthier snack’, or ‘I’m going to replace the sugar on my cereal for fruit’. We all have days when we haven’t eaten quite enough vegetables and these are the days to consider a multivitamin, too. And supplements don’t have to be boring! 

4. Take a more active approach to health

How to make it achievable
This resolution is already ahead of the game because it involves doing. To take an active approach to health try making some really simple changes to your lifestyle. Instead of saying you’ll sign up to the gym next week, go for a walk now. Instead of saying you’re going to cut down on sugar, start writing a food diary straight away – so you can identify areas for improvement. Using an activity tracker is a sure-fire way to encourage you to take more of an active approach to health.

5. Learn a new skill or hobby

How to make it achievable
You want to learn a new hobby? This is an excellent way of spending time on yourself and committing to something you enjoy. But is it achievable? More often than not people start hobbies and give them up because in reality they either don’t have the time to commit or they’re not actually enjoying themselves. If by the time 5.30pm comes you’re sat at your desk regretting signing up for Tuesday evening ‘learn how to salsa’ classes, don’t kick yourself that it’s just not for you. Sign up for something you know you really want to do, not something you think would be impressive in conversation. And starting a new hobby doesn’t have to mean paying a small fortune – the list is extensive. If you know you’ll enjoy knitting, or all you want to do is cosy up with a good book, or if salsa is right up your street, then go for it. A hobby is something that makes you feel happy.

6. Spend more time on personal wellbeing

How to make it achievable
After the indulgence of the Christmas holidays everyone has plenty to say about diet. New Year’s resolutions are overwhelmingly focused on aesthetics, weight gain and food without there being enough focus on new year’s resolutions for mental health – one of the single most important parts of overall wellbeing. Spending more time on your personal wellbeing is a great resolution but us humans work better with specific targets. So how about this? Commit to taking three deep breaths every morning when you wake up, followed by writing down one thing you want to achieve, one thing you’re grateful for and one thing you’re going to do for yourself today.

7. Spend more time with family and friends

How to make it achievable
Spending time with family friends is not just enjoyable, it’s good for you. But finding time for family – that doesn’t include taking the kids to school or hoovering up a mess – can be tricky. One thing we all need to do, though, is eat. This year make one of your resolutions to eat dinner as a family as opposed to individually. That way you’re also reducing the temptation to grab a ready-made meal on your way home from work. For home-made cooking inspiration take a look at these recipes.

8. Drink less alcohol

How to make it achievable
Of course, having the odd glass of wine or two is something all of us do. But more often than not these days people are drinking over the recommended units of alcohol per week. So how can you make this goal more achievable? Try replacing your weekday glass of wine with tonic water and fresh lime and lemon slices, rather than sitting on the sofa empty handed. And when you’re out at the weekend – keep a note of how many glasses you’ve had to stop yourself going overboard. Alcohol Concern has a free app that lets you keep track of what you drink each day and also tells you how much money you've saved.

9. Stop smoking

How to make it achievable
There’s no doubt this is a habit that’s best to kick in the teeth. More than one in five heart disease deaths are caused directly by smoking. In fact, smokers are almost twice as likely to have a heart attack compared to those who have never smoked. One study found that even women who are light to moderate smokers are almost twice as likely to die from sudden cardiac death than non-smokers. But obviously – quitting smoking is easier said than done. If you think you’re going to struggle cutting our nicotine completely at first, tell yourself this will be a slow process that you’ll begin with nicotine patches.

10. Other

Let’s use this last point to enforce how okay it is for New Year's resolutions to be simple and how important it is for them to be tailored to you. No goal is too small and the more specific the better. Your goals are for your own self-improvement and no one else’s.

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