We've just made it through the second Monday in January. For many of us, the aftershocks of post festive over indulgence on our bank accounts and waist lines are now being felt alongside the back to work gloom and broken new year resolutions. It’s got to be around now in this season of mid-winter bleakness, that a lot of us begin to wonder;  are we really capable of putting our "2017 is a new year and a new me" to action?

I'm guilty of this too. More than once in the past week, I've found myself reaching for the biscuit tin and left over Christmas chocolates, instantly falling into diet self sabotage.

But before you let those resolutions completely slip into a negative winter abyss, it’s time to put these setbacks aside, change how we think and reclaim January.

 

1. Recognise that January is just one month.

  A famous and well known quote by Bill Gates is that “most people over estimate what they can achieve in one year and underestimate what they can achieve in five years.” That same philosophy can be applied to the flurry of well-intentioned changes that people try to usher into their lives in January.  Let’s just be honest, there's only so much you can do at once and only so much that you can feel motivated to do when the weather is bleak, funds low and the year has only just got started. Rather than a time of total transformation, January can be a time to begin to set up habits and ground work that you then continue to work on for the rest of the year.

You could start by;

  • Introducing some better eating habits-reading up on how to prepare protein rich, healthy and affordable meals.
  • Getting out of bed 20 minutes earlier in the morning to do some stretching/exercise.
  • Doing one small thing a day towards a particular skill you are trying to develop.
  • Walking more and tracking miles walked.

 

2. Think about what it is that you want and visualise how obtaining it would make you feel.

Whatever your goals are for 2017, visualise what it is specifically that you want. Now, think about how you would feel achieving that goal weight, crossing the finish line at a marathon, or branching out into a new career? See it and absorb the feeling that it evokes.

Once you have reflected on this, make your intentions public. Tell other people and join online support forums.

This makes things all the more real as other people are now aware of your goal and potentially holding you to account. Engaging with social media support groups enables you to network amongst people striving for similar or even greater goals.

 

3. Take action and set dates that you have to make. 

This works especially well for fitness. Instead of generalised thoughts and goals about wanting to "get fit" or "lose weight", sign up to actual events. Take action and sign up to do a 5K, a 10K or another sporting event. Force yourself into a position where you have to change your lack of weekly exercise in order to take on this challenge. Sign up to weight loss programmes or a course you are interested in to taking. From personal experience, I have found this to be a highly effective approach. You are setting specific time limited goals. You cant afford  to just coast without progress.

 

4. A bad day or a relapse is not a reason to give up

Let’s be real. Just because it is a new year, does not mean that overnight that you have become a new you. You will still be the old you, that is until you are able to change you daily routines and habits. That means that falling off the preverbal wagon and making errors is going to be a reality. By mid-January you may not have stuck to your diet as planned or still be going to the gym. But the road to change is paved with human error, relapses, missed workouts and occasional junk food binges.

 

5. Remember: You are still the old you, so love the old you

The simple reality is that nothing about the calendar moving from December to January automatically transforms you into a “new you”. You are the same old you, with the same habits, lifestyle and choices. Old you is going to have to gradually change these in order to become “new you”. This is going to take commitment to changing daily habits and routines, believing in yourself and practising self love. But believe in current you, because current you has carried you through life up until now and is actually pretty awesome. It is not January that will get you there. January merely offers the opportunity for a dark, cold fresh winter slate to start putting these intentions to good use. It is you and you have the power to make adjustments that can put you on the path to reaching your goals.

Many people find January a difficult month. It can feel like the days span out into an endless dark abyss until the long awaited pay day at the end of the month. But it needn’t be that way. January can be a replenishing time to reboot from the past year and the excesses of the festive season. A time to goal set and spring clean from bad habits.

Just remember to pace yourself. Nobody says you have to pull off a detox, weight loss, train for a half marathon and launch a new career, all before February.