Five ways to actually stick to your New Year's resolutions

New Year's resolutions are tricky beasts. They straddle that thin line of "new year new me", and "let's try doing this shit once again".

Sometimes that can be successful.  For example in 2018 my New Year's resolution was to not get a parking ticket. I didn't get one until JULY so I feel like I am a really the authority on making this work.

Here's some advice for helping you tackle your resolutions for 2019, or even perhaps choosing a resolution for you.

Start with small tweaks

My dad has a saying he liked to bring out when I was crying down the phone over various university problems; "How do you eat the elephant? In very small bites."

Now I'm older I can see that this is problematic for numerous reasons but let's focus on the principle. Taking small steps to reach your resolutions make them so much more manageable. For example if "make less waste" is your goal for the year, it can be overwhelming to suddenly be buying compostable bin liners and planting all your vegetable off-cuts.

Instead, maybe keep a Sistema container on our desk to take and get your sushi at lunch time. Keep a reusable straw in your handbag, and pop it into your takeaway smoothie or iced coffee, instead of grabbing a plastic at the counter. See? Easy. This time next year you'll be wearing all recycled fabrics without even noticing.

Have your goals impact others

Knowing other people benefit from your benefit is nothing but a win/win situation, and may help keep you motivated when your new found hobbies start to wear thin. For example, if "work out more" was your goal, by March your interest in being able to lift a 40 kilogram ball may start to wane.

Instead choose somewhere like one of the various YMCA fitness centers around the country, where they put profits into charitable programmes, and provide fee assistance for those who are unable to join due to financial restrictions. That way when you're on the treadmill, you know that there might be someone also working out, because you are.

Likewise if "clear out junk" is your goal, start a system where if you haven't worn something for six months, donate it charity. You win, and someone in need gets that cute top you haven't fit into since 2015!

Avoid past failures

If at some point you tried to meet your goal and couldn't do it, then just maybe it's not for you. Starting every year thinking "this year I'll lose weight/start yoga /recycle" must be simply exhausting. Change your method or change your goal.

What, eating salad for lunch and dinner wasn't sustainable last year? That is truly quite shocking. Instead, maybe rejig your thinking. Just try adding more vegetables to your favourite meals, and eat ice cream a couple of times less a week. You're less likely to go on that KFC wicked wing binge you went on last year.

Or perhaps, maybe this year could be the year you try and say one nice thing to your reflection in the mirror each morning, instead of trying to eat salad every day. Just a thought. 

Don't aim too high.

Honestly it just sets you up for disappointment. Even my 'no parking tickets' goal was probably lofty, considering I live and drive in Auckland. If you're suddenly thinking "I will do two gym classes a day" and you currently do nothing but walk the dog, it's probably going be tough.

Find a gym that is happy to help a beginner. Places like Les Mills have a 'Smart Start' system where you begin by doing only half the class, and work your way up. Seriously, just leave all your equipment where it is! Amazing.

My resolution this year is to wear some more floaty dresses with a sneaker. See? My colleague's is "to go to the beach more". Lovely. Achievable. Not stress inducing.

Don't beat yourself up

If you fall off the wagon, stop giving yourself grief - unless of course your goal is to experiment with self-flagellation, no judgments here.

If you mess up, ie. spend all the money you saved on concert tickets, eat a box of Krispy Kremes, who cares!? You only have one life to be lived. Just get back on that wagon tomorrow and go forth and reach your goals!

And if you realise that maybe your life would be better without these goals you have set for yourself - great! Maybe you don't need to lose that 10 kilograms to be happy. Maybe you should just wear some more floaty dresses and take some nice walks.