Hands up if you're on a January diet...

Happy New Year

I know, we're almost a week into 2012 already, it's a bit late for contemplating achievements and setting resolutions isn't it? Every year, the "January diet" gets further reinforced by our populist media - all the adverts are suddenly for exercise DVDs, clever cookbooks and healthy food - and nearly everyone I know is "on a diet". We're a nation gone mad, and yet we'll all be overweight again by Easter. We all strive to be better, and I'm tired of failing... so I've been trying to figure out how to do it right.

Out with the old and in with the new.

Why is New Year synonymous with thoughts of past & future personal achievement? As our calendars tick over to a brand new year, most folk feel drawn to it as a fresh start, a simple changing of the date makes us feel like we're starting over. Combined with a break from the weekly work-eat-sleep routine and copious amounts of time with friends & relatives, thoughts turn to work-life balance, evaluating what we've done with our year & reflecting on what was missing.

Then there's the tradition of setting a new years resolution. Usually something spur of the moment, arbitrary to measure and impossible to achieve: 'lose weight', 'quit smoking', 'do more exercise', 'drink less', 'spend more time with family', 'work less' & so on. These day most of us can count at least two of those on our todo lists, and most of us will try really hard for the whole of January only to inevitably forget, give up, or just downright fail.

Conceived to fail

Why is it so damned hard to keep up a resolution? Whilst the Christmas & New Year breaks give us all plenty of time to think & have our self-realisations, epiphanies & moments of sworn change, the truth is that unless you make drastic changes to your various environments, it doesn't take long before the old routines take over again, and you remember WHY you smoke/drink/never have time to cook a decent meal/have to stay late at work...again.

Cause and effect

I have come to believe, that if you really do want to change something about yourself, you have to look at the cause of your unwanted behaviour and importantly, WHY you want to change it. Habits are usually a coping mechanism of some sort, so either you need to remove the need to cope, or change the way you do it. But when it comes to the why, i'll bet the answer is something along the lines of social pressure from the very same society which gave life to your bad habits in the first place (cue vicious circle and nothing ever changing).

However, once you've figured out the causes and decided whether YOU really want to change (as opposed to feeling like you should do) you'll discover you can set yourself a more realistic goal. Hopefully something along the lines of learning a new skill, or challenging yourself to make a small change. That, or you'll realise you have a much more fundamental problem to solve.

This year, I'm not setting myself a new years resolution. Instead, I'm going to spend some time looking at my list of potentials & really understanding why those things are on that mental list of mine. Then perhaps I'll be able to action some real, long-lasting change.

Happy New Year Everyone. I hope you do something GREAT with it.