Set a theme, not a resolution this year.

 Now that the sparkle of the new year has come and gone, you might be back into your regular routine, or still picking bits of party poppers out of your lawn. It’s a great time to reflect – how is that regular routine going for you? Did you, like many Australians, start the year with good intentions and high expectations, or was your only resolution this time around to not make any new year’s resolutions?

Well, you’re in luck. This isn’t the part where you read a statistic about how many people have broken their resolutions already, nor is this a quick fix/silver bullet to get you back on track. This is all about making realistic, sustainable, small incremental changes in your life until you look back day and think ‘how did I ever not live like this?’

The one statistic worth noting is that 34% of all resolutions involve making a change to our health. Lose weight, eat healthily, exercise more, quit smoking. This means that as a population, we value our health, definitely. So how does it inevitably end up on our list, year in and year out?  Let’s explore a few alternatives to this predicament, some anti-resolutions which you can make today and benefit from immediately.

No more black-and-white thinking.

“That’s it, I’m never eating chocolate again!”

“Starting on January 1st, I’m exercising every single day.”

“I’m going to start that new diet on Monday. For good, this time.”

Do any of these sound familiar? They are certainly well meaning. But sustainable? Perhaps not. This style of thinking is known as ‘black-and-white’ – it’s on or it’s off, good or bad, wrong or right. So what’s the harm in that? You might slip up, which is perfectly normal and expected, but then you feel guilty, and the cycle starts again. Making changes from a place of self-loathing doesn’t really ever work that well. So if not that approach, then what else?

Figure out an overarching theme you’d like for this year.

The beauty of this strategy is that you can begin at any moment. Yes – even right now. Setting yourself a theme for the entire year acts as a guide to what you do, or don’t do, to improve your experience.

It could be a word: wellness.

It could be a sentence: This year I am going to support my joints in every way possible.

Or just a short, sharp reminder: Move more.

Get crystal clear with yourself on how you want this year to look, sound, taste, feel. Perhaps instead of setting yourself a typical weight loss goal (‘Lose 10kg!’), you could set a theme of ‘improving your joint health’. You might still step on the scales, sure, but they wouldn’t dictate success. “Well, in line with my theme, we’ve been trying new healthy recipes as a family, and I’ve been swimming at the local pool. I’ve already lost 4kg!”

If it’s not in line with your theme, it’s an easy no.

Let’s say your theme was to increase all areas of your health. Could you still have a celebratory slice of cake at your dear friend’s birthday? Well actually, moments like that are fabulous for our mental and emotional wellbeing, which ultimately can increase our health and wellness. What about buying a cake on special at the supermarket and then eating most of it in one sitting? Not so much!

Every day is full of choices. Do we do our home exercises, or not? Do we cook a healthy meal, or buy a convenient (and often unhealthy) option? Set yourself a theme for this year and start with one thing per day which hits the target. Go for that walk after dinner, take your supplements, call a friend and have a good belly laugh. And if something arises which isn’t lining up for you, it becomes an obvious no.

Start now: Write up your theme for the year on a sticky note and place it somewhere that you look every day. Bathroom mirror, on the fridge or at your desk are good places to start. Tell your friends about your theme so they know to respect your choices. And most importantly, enjoy the rewards!