Photo by Samuel Clara
A Note from Natalie
Natalie is the resident writer, but not an expert. For expert advice, please book a consultation with Dr Quinn
It’s the end of the first month of the year so most resolutions will still be in the settling down and adjusting phase… and many of them will have fallen to the wayside altogether. Let’s get one thing clear up front – it’s no big deal. It’s normal. But you don’t have to wait until next year to try again!
In this week’s article we’ll be asking the important questions to get your personal aspirations back on track.
So what went wrong?
Two common (but not always obvious) answers to this question are:
- The resolution was unrealistic, or something that wasn’t really authentic to you anyway.
When you look at some people who have changed major aspects of their life, you may thinking ‘why couldn’t I do it?’ and generally the answer is that change only really happens when your current situation becomes truly untenable. You can’t pick someone else’s goal and just expect to make it stick, it has to be something you want – something you really need. If you’re aiming for a total overhaul when you’re actually pretty comfortable with the way things are then you might be focussing on the wrong aspect. Maybe the point is not that things have to change, but perhaps that you want to change how you feel about them – do you feel able to appreciate the things that are good about your life? Do you feel like you enjoy your life? These are really important questions – probably more important than ‘what don’t I have’ or ‘How could I be better?’
- There were no consequences to giving up.
Giving up is usually the easiest option in most situations. So the answer is simple: stop making it the easiest option! The best way to start is with accountability. Ask yourself a few basic questions:
- Does your commitment exist in the outside world in any way?
- Have you told other people about your plans for change?
- Have you made a financial commitment by booking a class or joining a gym or purchasing some equipment, or hiring a specialist?
- Have you firmly scheduled your commitment? Do you have a set place to be? Have you taken time off work? Have you told others that at this time on this day, you are unavailable? Have you turned off your phone to really commit to that time?
Very often we allow anyone and everyone else to encroach on our time, but it has less to do with our hectic life or busy schedule – it’s really about us not establishing boundaries.
There are always opportunities to get away from the outside world when we really want to, so it really comes back to whether or not we have set up the right set of circumstances to make sure we aren’t giving ourselves the option to wriggle out of it!
If you make a commitment, you’re not supposed to be able to renege.
One thing that’s true of most people is that we’re much more squeamish about letting other people down than we are about our own plans and dreams. So why not use that?
Here’s an example: decluttering. I know plenty of people who regularly start this and never finish it, they make a start sorting through a wardrobe, but get bored or distracted or overwhelmed and end up putting everything back where it was.
Why not find a charity shop that is willing to come and make a pick up? Book a definite time and date with them and let your own sense of obligation – not wanting to waste their time – create a motivation for you.
Motivation and consequence really go hand in hand. Consequences give you definitive answers to the question ‘what if?’, so you’re much less likely to give up and say ‘so what?’
The real issue – delayed gratification
Maybe the reason most resolutions fail before they really get going is because they’re generally about something that takes a certain amount of time before you get to see any results.
The goal is so far off in the future when what you’re dealing with is not a quick-fix, immediate-results kind of problem. Learning a skill, getting fit, losing weight, earning more money, making better decisions…
The only guaranteed way to succeed at any of these things is to start a pattern of behaviour and just repeat it over and over.
A new fitness regime won’t shrink you a size smaller in one day, but it might gradually get you there over a few months. Does that mean that you feel really happy after the first week? Probably not. If your focus is on the end result, and you don’t see that right away, that’s where we lose heart and also lose interest. We think it’s not worth the effort or the sacrifices…
But that’s really just a matter of shifting focus.
The biggest boost about sticking to a new habit is that you should feel good about yourself just for doing it each time. You should be allowing your confidence to grow because you made a commitment and you’re sticking to it. The results may happen later down the line, but right now the achievement is this: you’re showing up. You’re sticking to your plan. This is how you get things done – you show up. You lay one brick after another to build a wall. You keep your resolve.
If it’s true that people in groups are much more likely to succeed, it might be because there are people around them to say ‘I’m proud of you’, ‘you’re doing great’, ‘you’ve come a long way’.
Well, if you’re taking something on by yourself, maybe that’s the key to getting the same success – to remind yourself on each day that you stick to your new habit ‘well done. I’m proud of you. You can do it.’
So if you’ve fallen off the wagon since New Year, don’t sweat it because it’s common. You don’t have to wait another year to try again. Every day is a new start. Brush yourself off and get back to it.
Your resolutions shouldn’t be about ticking something off a list, they should be about you – about your life, your wellbeing. Just remind yourself that it’s never too late – February is just as good a month to start as January! You can totally do it if you just take one day at a time!
And remember, if you find yourself losing enthusiasm, just look ahead 12 months from now:
If you try and stick to it, every day from now until next New Year, your life will look a whole lot different, and you’ll feel like you can do anything!
This week’s Recipe, a perfect side dish, keep it in the fridge to reheat as and when!
Tarka Dhal from Love Food
Important: Debbie is selecting recipes with combinations of ingredients to inspire your cooking regimes, but while they are healthier choices in general, they will not address individual issues. You MUST make sure that all ingredients you use are compatible with your own individual medical conditions, medications, allergies and goals.
250g (8.8 oz) yellow split peas
3 tbsp vegetable oil (we suggest Olive Oil)
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 small onion, chopped
3 whole green chillies, pricked with a knife
2 cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
3 garlic cloves, peeled and left whole
0.8 tsp ground turmeric
0.8 tsp garam masala
1.5 tsp ground coriander
1 pinch salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 handful chopped fresh coriander leaves
- Place the lentils and a litre of water into a pan, stir well and bring to the boil. Skim off any froth that forms on the surface of the water with a spoon. Cover the pan with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer. Simmer, stirring regularly, for 35-40 minutes, or until the lentils are just tender, adding more water as necessary.
- When the lentils have cooked through, remove the pan from the heat and use a whisk to break down the lentils. Set the mixture aside to thicken and cool.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and fry for 20-30 seconds, or until fragrant. Add the onion, chillies and ginger and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until golden-brown.
- Blend the garlic and tomatoes to a purée in a food processor. Add the purée to the pan and stir well to combine.
- Add the ground spices and 100ml/3½fl oz of water to the pan and stir well to combine. Season, to taste, with salt and simmer over a medium heat for 15-20 minutes, or until the oil from the sauce has risen to the surface of the sauce.
- Add the cooked lentils to the sauce and stir well, adding more water as necessary to loosen the mixture. Bring the mixture to the boil and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Stir in the chopped coriander just before serving.