It’s that time again; that limbo between Christmas and New Year. There are probably some leftovers and Milky Way from the selection box lingering around, but all the Dairy Milk has gone and the remaining sprouts are looking pretty sad in the fridge.

You might be thinking ahead to 2016. A new year holds so much promise for all the things you’re going to achieve. But before you start making commitments about where you’ll be this time next year, take a look at our tips for creating realistic resolutions that will help you stick to and achieve your goals.

1. Understand what resolution you want to make

This may sound obvious, but if you can clearly articulate what it is that you want to do, whether it be quitting smoking, losing weight, running a marathon or being more positive, you’ll find yourself a lot more focused. Try and define a timescale for your aim too and if you can, break if down in to smaller chunks and key milestones.

2. Understand why you want to make this resolution

Take some time to really think about why you want to achieve your resolution and be honest. You don’t have to share your motivation with anyone else, but make sure you know why you’re doing what you’re doing. Here’s some examples

Quitting Smoking

  • Improve health
  • Save money
  • Smell better
  • Reduce the onset of ageing
  • Run with more stamina
  • Food tastes better

Losing weight

  • Improve health
  • Look hotter
  • Get more energy
  • Wear different clothes
  • Get pregnant
  • Run around after my children / grand children / dog

3. What (or who) is getting in the way of achieving your resolution?

You may have decided to make this change before and not managed it or you could be attempting it for the first time, either way, there are bound to be obstacles in your way or excuses you’ve made in the past. There might even be a person who is sabotaging your efforts. Write down all the barriers you’ve come across before and create strategies for coping with them. And if there is a person holding you back, you might have to sit them down and tell them why this goal is so important to you and why you need their support.

4. Who is your cheerleader?

Equally, we all have people in our lives who support us no matter what. These people will be your key allies, so tell them your goal and how you’re planning to achieve it and enlist them to help you stay accountable.

5. Make an inspiration board

Visualisation is a pretty useful tool in trying to get what you want, so consider making yourself an inspiration board. You use a sheet of card or make a virtual board on Pinterest. In fact, if you have a browse around Pinterest, you’ll see that a lot of other people have already done this.

6. Make a contract with yourself

Write down exactly what it is that you want to get done and sign it. Keep it somewhere prominent or close by so you always have it as a reminder of what you are setting out to achieve. Having something tangible helps to cement your resolve.

7. Don’t tackle too much at once

You may have a massive list of things you want to accomplish in 2016, but don’t aim for too much as this can be overwhelming and disheartening. Pick one or two things and really go for them, rather than loads of things that you can only achieve a bit of.

8. If you fall off the wagon, get right back on it

It’s OK to slip up, but don’t let one mistake spoil your efforts for longer than that one slip up. Don’t let yourself off for the rest of the day, week, month. You haven’t failed, because you can’t fail at something you don’t give up on. You might like to write down or film how you felt after that one error. This could help you avoid the same thing in the future.

9. Don’t be too hard on yourself

Making any big change isn’t easy, in fact, nothing worth having comes easily, so you’re going to have to be prepared for some hard work. But don’t be too hard on yourself. Chalk up every little victory you win on this journey and you’ll soon realise that you’re making progress, no matter how slow.

 10. You deserve this!

Remember, whatever your resolution, you’re making it to improve yourself and your life and you deserve it. For all the sacrifices you may have to make along the way, these are building up to your ultimate goal.

Now go out and win 2017 (in a few days after a bit more Christmas TV)