Life coaching Top Tips
Well here we are, in 2021 at last. What a ride we’ve had these last 12 months. No matter how challenging 2020 has been though, there have been some good times, haven’t there? Have you spent any time reflecting on these and the journey that the year has taken you on? If not, then I invite you to do so - I bet you've achieved way more than you've given yourself credit for.
2021, what will you have to offer, we ask? The good news is that much of what unfurls in the coming year is under our own control: we are the masters of our own destiny. Many use the birth of a new year to set intentions; for some, these are resolutions. I prefer the term ‘intentions’, as ‘resolutions’ suggests that something is broken and needs to be fixed (‘resolved’). ‘Intentions' for me suggests a moving forward, a freshness, a vision. I’d like to highlight what I believe are three golden rules when it comes to intention setting:
Go easy on yourself
This one is paramount. Any time you’re trying to change anything in your life, please don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure. If you do, you’ll probably be setting yourself up to fail, and we want to avoid that! So if your goal is to start running, redecorate your home, get a new car or whatever else, break it down into manageable chunks. Set yourself a vision and consider what the individual steps are that you’ll need to take to get there. You can then set yourself dates by which to achieve each of these steps, but make sure that these are manageable and don’t beat yourself up if you need to recalibrate. Consider, though, how you will hold yourself accountable, to make sure you don’t stray too far off course at any point. You could use SMARTER to help to form your goals, ensuring that they are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timebound, that it's possible to Evaluate them (or your progress) regularly, and that it's possible to Readjust your methods when needed.
Remember that every new moment can be a fresh start if you wish it to be - this isn’t restricted to New Year
The second is a simple one: you have the power to change things up at literally any time. You might not be able to effect those changes overnight, but you can decide at any moment that a situation or a thing is no longer serving you, and to consider what you can do to change it for the best. We’ve all heard the stories of gym memberships sky-rocketing in January and then being cancelled a month or two later; new year is a false friend in that regard. You can always, always make changes, or take the first steps towards doing so.
Make it enjoyable
Finally, there’s no point in having intentions which feel like a chore. How will we commit to them if we resent or even hate them? Try to find enjoyable ways of progressing with your goals. Could you have an accountability buddy, for instance? This wouldn’t need to be someone who wants the same things as you, but perhaps a friend or family member who also wishes to make shifts in their lives around the same time frame as you. You could arrange to check in with each other once a month or every couple of weeks to chat about how you’re getting on, any challenges you’re facing and to spur one another forward. Or maybe there's something you could reward yourself with each time you achieve your next milestone?
Forming new habits
There's some interesting psychology around forming habits. You may have heard that it takes 28 days or 30 days or 60 days (or any variant thereof!) to create a new habit. This isn't true. In fact, it can be much, much less, if we follow some simple guidelines.
Again, it's important to be specific. The more precise you can be about what you are going to do, the more achievable it will be: vague aims will not help you to move forward. Make it easy for yourself, too - this will increase the likelihood that it becomes a habit. Also, it's been found that actions involving physical movement are easier to form into a habit - whether this is using a special notebook to plan your activities, or reaching into a specific cupboard in the kitchen to get the ingredient you need for those healthy, nutritious breakfasts...
Did you know that the best way to change an existing habit is to create a new one to replace it? If you want to change a habit of picking up your phone every half an hour and scrolling aimlessly through social media, then decide what you want to replace this with. Let's say this is reading a poem from an actual book. Keep the book with you wherever you are - whether this is on your work desk at home, in your bag when you leave the house, on the side table in the lounge - and notice when you experience the stimulus which would usually have you reaching for your phone. Your response will instead be to pick up your poetry book and read that poem. Do the new habit for a week and see what happens!
Hopefully these ideas have offered some food or thought - do get in touch if you have any feedback or would like to chat any of this through with me. May I take this opportunity to wish you all a very happy new year.