Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year. Christmas carols, catching up with family and friends, and lots of yummy food all contribute to the wonderful festivities! Unfortunately, it is often a time when good habits disappear out the window and the realisation of unkept past New Year’s resolutions create the onset of guilty feelings about another year passed..

If you happen to be one of the disciplined souls then you’re already making progress with your goals, and the start of a new year provides an opportune time to reassess where you’re at and set new goals. At Mental Notes Consulting we are committed to helping people to achieve their potential in all areas of performance including sport, exercise, work and health.

Here are some of my top tips to avoid the ‘Silly Season’ regrets, and forge forward to commit to and succeed at your 2013 resolutions.

It’s as simple as A, B, C!

1. Have an Action Plan.

Think about what you want to achieve and where you would like to be in 6- or 12-months’ time. Be specific about where you are and where you want to be and plan each step you need to take to get there.

Planning ahead can also keep you out of trouble in tempting situations. For example, if you need to lose 5 kg before pre-season in the new year, decide before you arrive at a Christmas event what kind and how much food you need to eat or avoid and how much alcohol you can consume to still be able to reach your goals. Having a plan can help you to prepare for possible challenges and reduce disappointment.

Every little step taken is a victory in the pursuit of your goals. When things seem overwhelming and it feels like you will never reach your goal, ask yourself, “What choice can I make right now that will take me closer to my goal?” Take a little step towards your goal in that moment. Remember, the only way to eat an elephant (if you have a penchant for elephants!) is one bite at a time; similarly, the only way to reach your goal is one step at a time.

2. Identify Possible Barriers.

What is going to get in the way of achieving your goal? There is a big difference between a reason and excuse.

An excuse is something that we use to justify not making positive choices but it doesn’t actually physically stop us. For example, saying that you “have to” have that piece of chocolate because your friend said you should. You don’t physically “have to” put that chocolate in your mouth. You make a willing decision to do so.

A reason is something that physically stops us from making positive choices, for example an injury. However, the best thing about a reason is that you can always find a way to adapt. For example, if you have a performance enhancement goal, you can train your upper body if you have a lower body injury or focus on improving your mental skills while resting your body.

Find out if what’s stopping you is a reason or an excuse and prepare to manage possible barriers. If it’s an excuse you have a choice, if it’s a reason, you can adapt.

3. Compassion.

If you take a step away from your goal, don’t give up! It means that you’re human just like the rest of us. One of the most important things for getting back on track is to stop wasting time beating yourself up and go back to your action plan

Everyone makes mistakes, but don’t let disappointment distract you from your plan. Also, if you decide that you can afford to have a day off from your training or diet on Christmas Day, enjoy it!! Don’t waste the day thinking about what you could, should, or would be doing, but stick to your decision and embrace the opportunity to do something different. Likewise, if you continue to train or maintain a strict diet while others around you are not, embrace it, and remind yourself that you are taking another step towards your goal.

Plus a D and E too..

4. Just Do It!!

Plans are nice, but unless you step out and take action, they are pointless.

5. Evaluate.

If you’re having trouble sticking to your action plan or managing barriers to your goals, you may need to revise your plan and see what is and isn’t working. Experience is the best teacher!

Continually taking steps towards your goals gradually makes it easier to develop a pattern of thought towards that task.

Habits develop like a path in the bush, where the more it is used the more the debris and bushes are cleared and the easier it is to walk on. The more we make and practice a choice, the easier it gets!

For more information on this topic or for individualised support in the pursuit of your goals, contact your local Mental Notes Consultant.

Have a great Christmas and New Year!

“There can be no happiness if the things we believe in are different from the things we do.” – Freya Stark