18 Dec, 2020 Last updated: 09 Mar, 2021

How to make and keep your New Year’s resolutions heading into 2021.

Author: VicHealth works with health promotion experts to create a Victoria where everyone can enjoy better health and wellbeing.

Any coronavirus information mentioned is accurate at the time this article was first published (18 December 2020). For the most up-to-date information about coronavirus restrictions, please visit the source: www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au

 

As the end of the year approaches, people often start thinking about setting goals for the year ahead.

But as anyone who has set themselves a New Year’s resolution before will tell you; it can be hard to stay on track.

In this article we look at:

  • Are New Year’s resolutions more harmful than helpful?
  • What sort of resolutions should we be setting ourselves?
  • How to stay motivated to tick off the goals you set for yourself

Be Healthy was created by VicHealth to provide helpful tips and advice on how you and your family can stay healthy. You can read more Be Healthy articles here.

As we prepare to bid farewell to a challenging year, you might be setting goals to do things you weren’t able to do in 2020.

VicHealth CEO Dr Sandro Demaio spoke to Mary Gearin on ABC Radio Melbourne about how we can approach the new year, and how to set ourselves up for successful resolutions.

 

Are New Year’s resolutions good for us?

Although it’s common for people to set themselves one (or even a handful) of goals to achieve at the start of a new year, Sandro says they can be both a help and a hinderance.

“For some people, setting goals for the year ahead can be very helpful,” he said.

“But I also think they can be a bit harmful sometimes and place extra stress and pressure on an already busy schedule.

“There are a lot of things that we couldn’t do this year, a lot of expectations that we put on ourselves. The last thing we need is more expectations and pressure and potentially judgement if you don’t live up to the goals you set for yourself.”

 

What sort of resolutions are the best?

There are plenty of common resolutions that people like to give themselves every year. Losing weight, overhauling your diet or joining a gym are common health-related goals.

But Sandro says often setting smaller goals can leave you feeling more positive and fulfilled, rather than trying to jump over a very high bar straight away.

 

“What’s really important for New Year’s resolutions is to think about things that are small, realistic and achievable,” he said.

 

“It’s much better to shoot past your goal and really feel as though you’re doing a great job and you’re going over and above, than to set yourself a tough goal that may feel you leaving disappointed if you don’t quite achieve it.”

Sandro also suggests one of the best places to start with a New Year’s resolution could be with the things you may have started -doing more of through the pandemic.

“Maybe you had a little bit more time to cook things from scratch, had time away from phones and social media, more time in nature or daily exercise. Simple things like that which you may have really enjoyed across 2020, maybe you can hold onto those,” he said.  

“It’s really just about making sure that it’s realistic, it’s achievable and you set yourself up for success. You need to be patient with yourself if it takes you a few weeks to start working on that goal.”

 

How to stay motivated to achieve your resolution

It’s also fairly common for people to set themselves a resolution, but as the daily routine settles back in during the new year other priorities get in the way.

So how can we give ourselves the best opportunity to succeed when we set ourselves a goal?

Sandro says it’s important not to rush in trying to tick off the goals you set yourself in 2021, particularly as many of us adjust to ‘COVID normal’.

“Give yourself as long as you need [to work on your goals]. It will be different from person to person,” he said.

“The chronic stress and physiological changes that have occurred in our brains and bodies over 2020, those will be starting to lift. Some of those sources of pleasure are coming back into our lives. And some of the very real and constant sources of stress we felt across this year may be starting to leave.”

“It has been a tough year, and it’s been particularly tough for certain people in the community so if it takes you a couple of weeks, that’s okay as long as you’re looking after yourself and if you do need help you reach out and seek that.”

 

Tips for making and following through on New Year’s resolutions

  • Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself. With the stress we’ve all had to deal with this year, the last thing we need is more pressure and expectations.
  • Try not to set the bar too high initially. It’s tempting to think of something big to achieve, but often smaller goals can provide just as much satisfaction. You might even just like to continue doing some of the things you started doing during lockdown.
  • Be patient with yourself. We all have lots going on in our lives, so don’t get too frustrated if ticking off your goals takes a bit of time. Delayed gratification is worth the wait!

 

This year has thrown up plenty of challenges, but starting 2021 off with a few positive goals in mind can help you spring into the new year in style.