Did you make any resolutions last week, as the bells chimed or while you were feeling sorry for yourself the morning after? In the cold light of day are there any you would change or any that seem unrealistic?

I mentioned a couple of things that I’m going to be focussing on in the first months of the new year, and I thought it would be a good idea to look at ways to stick to targets you enthusiastically come up with as the old year goes out, but don’t manage to stick to.

One of the best tips I’ve come across (more than once, so I’m not sure where I saw it first!) is about making a goal achievable by being specific. Saying “I want to lose weight” is an admirable resolution, but if you start the year wanting to lose a stone and feel disheartened if you only lose a couple of pounds in the first two months, you may give up. Aim to lose a small amount by a certain date, and when you achieve it, repeat the process.

Similarly, your resolution may have been to stop smoking. If you’re going to break a habit, look for support from the doctor, family and friends rather than trying to do it alone.

Set a Target

I’ve always thought that the best idea is to have a specific target to work towards. When I was a child, that was always my dad’s advice. If you’ve got a reason for doing what you’re doing, you’re more likely to commit to it. So, although I want to get fitter and healthier in 2016, having been under the weather for the last few months, I’m booking a half marathon for the summer so I have something to work towards.

If you want to learn a new language, book a holiday (even just a short break) and give yourself three months to master the basics – asking for directions, ordering in a restaurant, buying souvenirs.

5 Tips to Try

I had a look online for some other tips, and have listed them below:

1. According to WebMD, you need to work on using your willpower, and the more you can exert self-control, the stronger it gets, and in a short space of time. The site gives the example of smokers trying to quit building their willpower by avoiding sweets or squeezing a grip strengthener every day. Those who did it regularly had more success with giving up smoking.

2. Don’t be too strict with yourself. If you decided to eat more healthily and conclude that the best way to do this is to give up chocolate, biscuits, chips or whatever your weakness is, you’re putting pressure on yourself. If you give in to cravings you’re likely to be hard on yourself and perhaps give up. Instead, decide to have treats only in a restaurant, or one day a week.

3. Focus on one resolution at a time. 2016 may be your year for achieving several ambitions, but choose just one to start with. This is a lot less overwhelming than trying to do too much at once, and you’re more likely to succeed.

4. Review your progress. Keep a note of everything you’ve done and how far you’ve come. This is positive as you have a record of your achievements. Mark off your mini-goals as you go. You can also use your record to see where you didn’t do so well, and work out how to improve – could you exercise at a different time of day, or ask a friend to support you.

5. Write your goals down, and put them somewhere you can see them. Stick a copy to your wall, fridge or bathroom mirror, and read them every day. This helps them stay in the forefront of your mind and you’re more likely to keep working on them.

And don’t forget to celebrate your achievements, no matter how small!