Why your New Year's resolutions didn't last

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Many of us enter the new year with the best of intentions and make a series of ambitious resolutions each December.

But with January coming to a close, there are probably very few people who are still striving to achieve the goals they originally set out, or have perhaps already given up. So, why do New Year resolutions often end up being a failure?

Amanda Place, an award-winning personal trainer and founder of Sculptrition, has offered up some of the reasons why making resolutions doesn't work - and what to do instead.

Don't try to change too much at once

Attempting to completely overhaul an aspect of your life overnight, whether it be your diet, lifestyle or exercise regime, will be difficult to maintain long-term.

"We are creatures of habit and we love our routines. You may notice that you just naturally eat the same things on rotation or that you naturally fall back into the same patterns in other areas of your life," she said.

"This is why gradual change is much more effective at building sustainable habits."

Shift your mindset

Another reason why we fail to achieve our goals is that they are too rigid.

"Let's say that you want to improve your diet, so you decided to completely stop eating sugar or processed food. Then you go to your friend's house and she offers you some cake that she has just made. You eat some to be a good guest, but now you feel that you have 'ruined it' and might as well give up. This is an example of all-or-nothing thinking. Your goals/rules are so strict and rigid that when you break the goal or rule, you end up giving up altogether," the expert explained.

"Therefore, it is much more helpful to build flexible goals that allow you to have cake sometimes and not feel the need to be really strict with what you are aiming for."

Align short and long-term goals

Sometimes your vision for what you want for yourself in the short-term isn't aligned with what you really want in the long-term.

"Let's say set a goal to exercise for one hour every single day. This may sound great but it may also be impractical with the lifestyle that you currently lead. Exercising this much every day may mean, for example, not seeing friends in the evening, spending enough time with family or going to a work event."

Be accountable

Having some sort of accountability can help you to stay motivated to follow through with a goal you have set for yourself.

"If there is nobody cheering you along or nobody that you have to keep up with something for, it will be very easy to slip back into old habits. This is why ensuring that you have some support and accountability as you try to make changes in your life is essential," she noted.

Change habits and self-perception

We will often live up to our own self-perception. If you see yourself as an over-eater, you are effectively giving yourself permission to over-eat. Alternatively, if you see yourself as an athlete, you are more likely to exercise and commit to a training regimen - even on days when you don't really feel like it.

"Our self-perception shapes our behaviours. Therefore, in order to change our behaviours long-term, we need to think of ourselves as someone who just naturally engages in the behaviours that we want to engage in," she added.

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