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Graham Allcott

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Five ways to save your new years’ resolutions


The key to a successful New Year's resolution is to not put too much pressure on yourself, says Graham Allcott. To win a copy of his new book have a look at the foot of the article.

Much is written about new years' resolutions in the run up to the turn of the year. You're supposed to get your plans in order, turn over a new leaf and ride that wave of optimism. On the flipside, we all know that resolutions are often a distant memory by February and lots of the best laid plans go to waste. But little is written about what to do when it all goes wrong. So here's a few things you can try to get your resolutions back on track.

Lower your expectations

One of the major problems with new years' resolutions is that we make too many of them. Changing habits is a difficult thing to achieve, so if you're giving yourself a radical overhaul in several areas of your life, it might be that you need to hang back and prioritise: pick no more than four resolutions to work on. Leave everything else for next year.

Don't aim for perfection - give yourself an 'exception allowance'

It can be very stressful trying to lead your 'new life' in public: if you're giving up drinking, what happens when you find yourself in a pub or out for dinner for a glass of wine? If you're giving up emails or working on weekends, what happens when your boss comes back and asks you to chip in on a crucial project? Of course, these temptations are the reason we have new years' resolutions, but allowing for exceptions can actually help prolong a more healthy habit rather than you feeling disheartened and giving up. Perhaps give yourself one exception to each new habit per month, and see if that helps you to stick to all of them for the longer term.

Be clearer

I have lots of people tell me their new years' resolution is something like 'be more productive'. I even had someone tell me their plan was to be 'more spontaneous'. In practice, these are difficult to achieve, because how do you measure your success? Focus instead on tangible results: what do you see when you imagine the more productive you? Or where does your new-found planned spontaneity take you? If it takes you to jazz clubs with friends, maybe 'visit one jazz club a month' is a better resolution.

Write them down

A plan is not a plan until you can see it. If your resolutions are still in your head, the chances are they'll be fading fast as the new year gets underway. Write them down and put them somewhere you can see them regularly. Next to your desk or pinned to the fridge - you get the idea.

Get help

New Years' resolutions don't have to be a personal battle. In fact, sharing your new plan with someone else can help you to execute it. I find personally that I hate letting other people down, but if a plan was just made with myself and not shared, I'm happier to just ditch it and forget about it. So, create the momentum and accountability you need by sharing your intention. Then as you go about your year, you'll know at least one person is watching out to see how you do, and that person might also be a source of support and help when they see you get stuck, too.

Finally, a bit of ninja unorthodoxy. I rarely make New Years' resolutions in time for the 1st January. I like to see what the year is providing before I start to formulate new goals. So if you haven't made them yet, don't think that ship has sailed - instead, row your own boat. Your new years' resolutions can start on the 1st of February, or in the middle of January, or indeed any time of the year. And being a little out of synch with the rest of the world means you can see your goals as well-intentioned and exclusively yours, rather than as part of some kind of ritual that seems to make so many people miserable.

Good luck.

Graham Allcott is the founder of Think Productive, which provides productivity workshops to some of the UK's leading companies. His new book, 'How to be a Productivity Ninja', is out now. You can buy it from Amazon here and Waterstone's here.

What's your tip to make 2014 a productive year? Leave a comment beneath, and the best answer wins a copy of Graham's brand new book

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Graham Allcott


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