9 steps for turning New Year’s Resolutions into achievable goals

New Year’s Resolutions have never really been my thing.

The few times in my life that I did set one or two resolutions, I had always pretty much forgotten about them by the end of January.

Apparently it’s not just me. Research suggests that only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolution. 

But looking back, even though I made no New Year’s Resolutions, 2016 was the year my life changed dramatically for the better.

I started 2016 housebound, able to eat just over 20 foods and often too tired to get out of bed before noon.

As I’ve said many times, DNRS gave me my life back in more ways than I could ever imagine. 

So much is involved in DNRS that it’s impossible to go into all that here. But one part of it which I believe is crucial to the programme’s success is the goal setting aspect.

In fact, getting to travel again was one of my initial goals and these photos of me and Dermot in Italy last June mean a real lot to me.

I believe setting tangible goals is really important not only when it comes to recovery from chronic illnesses through DNRS but also for life in general. 

And when it comes to setting New Year’s Resolutions, I really believe that turning them into actionable and achievable goals rather than leaving them up in the air as something you hope to one day achieve is the way to go.

So here are 9 steps which can help you to keep your resolutions and achieve your goals in 2017:

1. Keep it simple. 
This can be done in two ways: firstly by not having too many goals and also by being realistic. I find the best goals are ones which are challenging but achievable. If your goals get too complicated, I believe it just gets overwhelming and you end up doing nothing. 

2. Know the why behind your goals.
I really think this is the most crucial part. If you’re not completely in tune as to why you want to achieve your goals, you won’t put in the work necessary to achieve them.

3. Be crystal clear about what you want to achieve. 
The most effective goals are tangible and really specific.  It’s also best to set a timeline in order to avoid procrastination. So it’s better to say you want to lose 5 kg by May rather than that you want to lose weight. This also makes it easier for you to track and celebrate progress, which I consider to be really important.

4. Create a plan. 
It’s often said that a goal without a plan is actually a wish or a dream. In order to progress towards achieving your goal, you need to plan the steps you’ll take to achieve it. I always find it’s best to break goals into smaller sub-goals as it’s easy to abandon goals because they’re just too big. 

So for example, one of my goals when I started DNRS was to run a 5 km race in 6 months. But I made a plan for what I was going to do each day and each week, including how I was going to gradually build up my running, the exercises I was going to do to strengthen my muscles again after months of inactivity etc.

5. Be ready to face obstacles. 
There will always be obstacles and I really believe the most important thing is not to allow setbacks to worry you. Instead you need to bounce back and recommit as quickly as you can. Treat them for what they are: temporary setbacks rather than a reason to give up altogether. There will be days when you’re not perfectly on track but you need to accept the bad days and not beat yourself up about them.

6. Be accountable to someone – even if that person is yourself.
Depending what the goal is, some people prefer having some sort of coach/mentor. Others prefer having an ‘accountability buddy’ with a similar goal with whom they can share ideas and motivate each other to stay on track. For others, just sharing their goals with loved ones helps them remain accountable, while for some just being accountable to themselves and checking in on their own progress is enough.  

7. Have reminders of your goals. 
Again this comes down to individual preferences. For some people, writing goals down and/or having a checklist is enough, while others prefer to have a visual board as a reminder of their goals. Whatever way works best for you, it’s important to have reminders of your goals so that you know that whether baby steps or large strides, you are moving towards achieving them.

8. Keep believing you can do it. 
Of course this isn’t always easy, but my main advice is to ignore people who say you can’t do it and to make your self-talk work for you. Turn thoughts of “I can’t do this” into thoughts of “I can and I will do this”. 

9. And last but certainly not least: take the first step. 
I really believe that many times in life we don’t achieve our goals because we’re just too scared to take the first step. But in reality just one small step can change everything. If you then keep doing little things to keep moving forward towards your goal each day, eventually you’ll get there, as per this famous saying which I love:

Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different?
— C.S. Lewis

Of course without DNRS, recovering from my chronic illness in 2016 would have been impossible. 

But these 9 steps really helped me reach my recovery goals – and other goals such as setting up this blog – in 2016.

So how will you choose to make 2017 different? Don’t let the year pass without making progress towards the things you want to achieve.

Wishing you a year filled with health, happiness, love and laughter, as well as brighter days if your days haven't recently been too bright.