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New Year's Resolutions: How to Create Positive Change in 2017

It’s that time of year again. The time when our minds turn to what we want to change this year, how we want our lives to be different. The time of New Year’s resolutions, of promising ourselves we will be (or do) ‘better’. This year I’ll eat better, exercise more, be a better wife, husband, parent, sister, brother, friend, lose weight.

What a lot of judgement!

Resolutions are often just a clever way of beating ourselves up. Telling ourselves we’ve not tried hard enough or been good enough last year so, this year, we must try harder.

I don’t know about you but that just sounds like my old school reports.

They are simply a sophisticated way of telling ourselves that we are just not good enough: I’ll eat better (translation: I’ve eaten nothing but junk food all year), exercise more (translation: I’m a complete couch potato), be a better wife, husband, parent, sister, brother, friend (translation: I treat the people I love terribly), be thinner (translation: I’m fat).


If you’re anything like me, that message is not all that motivational. It doesn’t make me leap into action, full of enthusiasm and will to succeed. What it tells me is that I’m rubbish so there’s little point trying. It sets up an expectation that you will fail – almost before you’ve even begun. There might be some people who are goaded into action out of sheer stubbornness but I’m not one of them. For me, and many people like me, to be told I’m not good enough, even by myself, is completely and utterly demoralising!

Is it any wonder so many New Year’s resolutions fall by the wayside by, say – let’s be generous -Valentine’s Day?

So how do we make resolutions that actually stick? That actually make us feel good about ourselves?

Here are my tips:

  1. Build on what you already have
    Rather than introducing something brand new, go for the next step on something you are already doing. Go for a walk twice a week instead of once, run 10k instead of 5.
  2. Use your existing routines
    Routines are a great way of making sure things get done: get up, shower, get dressed, breakfast, teeth. Your morning routine may not be exactly the same as mine but I guarantee you have one (several through the day probably) and you’ll do it as naturally as breathing. Rather than telling yourself you’ll do something new ‘at some point every day’ (you will forget), tack it on to an existing routine. Get up, do some stretches, shower, get dressed, breakfast, teeth. Build it into your morning routine and it will soon become just as natural as cleaning your teeth.
  3. Be modest
    Rather than introducing radical change or something completely new, go for just the first step. If that sticks, take the next step next year – or in 6 months’ time. Instead of going vegetarian overnight, try having one more meat-free meal a week.
  4. Make it fun
    I love the idea of being able to go for a run but the truth is, I hate running! If I made it my New Year’s resolution to take up running, I’d fall at the first hurdle because I wouldn’t enjoy it. I might go once or twice but, as soon as it rained or I got too cold, I’d give up. It would be no fun at all for me. A far better option for me would be to try something I know is fun for me – like a dance class.
  5. Strike while the iron is hot
    While the 1st of January does present us with a new start; a chance to wipe the slate clean and start afresh after the indulgences of Christmas, if you feel motivated to make a change or try something new now, why wait? Use that energy and motivation to leap into action and make a start – right now! If you put it off to the New Year, the moment will have passed and you’ll find it a lot harder to put your plans into action.
  6. Don’t subtract – add
    If your resolution is to give something up – let’s say alcohol – you are likely to feel deprived, like you are missing out next time you’re out with friends and they’re having a tipple. Then, when things go wrong or get hard, the chances are you’ll go back to that special treat to ease the pain. Or, if things go really well, you’ll grab a glass of wine as a reward for being good. It’s far easier to add something to your routine. So, instead of subtracting alcohol from your life altogether, why not try adding more water. If you aim to drink at least a litre of water every day, or alternate a boozy drink with a glass of fizzy water, with time, you might find yourself reaching for the wine bottle a little less.
  7. Be kind
    Above all, be kind to yourself. They say, “Treat others the way you wish to be treated”. I say that’s all back to front – we tend to treat ourselves way worse than we treat other people! We’re far rougher on ourselves, far less forgiving, if we slip up or make a mistake. If someone else falls off the healthy eating waggon, we tell them, “It’s ok, it’s just one slip, it’s not the end of the world, try again tomorow. You can do it!” When we fall, we tell ourselves, “You idiot! You’ve ruined everything, that’s it! You’ve failed – again!! You’re hopeless!” You’d want to punch anyone else who said that to you or to someone you love, wouldn’t you?! So why do we do it to ourselves? So, instead of vicious attacks, treat yourself as you treat others. Be kind. Be forgiving, encouraging and loving. In fact, that’s a great New Year’s resolution right there:

This year, I will be kind to myself

If you want to make changes in 2017; changes that will improve your health and wellbeing, build on your regular chiropractic adjustments and that might just stick then watch this space. Early in the New Year, I will be running a free workshop for our regular practice members designed to help you take control of your health and wellbeing, understand how habits are formed and broken, and set goals and strategies to help you stick at it when it gets tough. If you are interested, please let me know using the comments box below, or mention it to me or Tracy next time you’re in for an adjustment.

Nancy Cerritelli
Chiropractic Assistant and Lifestyle Coach

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