You are probably one of the 88 percent who even before the start of the New Year has a list of things you want to change in the next year.
A new year means a chance to make a fresh start. New Year is traditionally a time to make a resolution to change and we world are not immune to that. The most common resolutions are about health, habits, jobs and relationships, but regardless of what your resolutions are, the steps toward achieving them are basically the same. Don’t dream about a radical u-turn which will turn into an exercise of futility and a broken promise. Lasting lifestyle changes are possible, and believe it or not, they can start with a New Year’s resolution. Set a realistic goal, give yourself a little time to plan, involve the support of your family or friends and you’ll be well on your way to making and keeping a New Year’s resolution! Here are some tips, tricks and advice tailored for expats on how to keep New Year’s resolutions. A quick and easy step-by-step ‘how to’ guide:
Aim low It goes without saying that most New Year’s resolutions are easier announced (or written) than done but if you set the bar too high, you’re doomed from the start. Instead of a sweeping declaration like “I will lose 20 kilograms by April and finally fit into that dress/trouser,” target a goal that’s more attainable, like losing 15 kilograms. Set a realistic attainable goal.
It’s difficult enough for the average person to follow through on one ambitious New Year’s resolution why on earth would you saddle yourself with three or four? Choose the most pressing issue at hand: losing weight, looking for a new job, finding friends locally, improve your Dutch, write more often to your family at home and concentrate on that one. Trying to do everything simultaneously practically guarantees failure across the board.
Make a “pro” and “con” listIt may help to see a list of benefits of your resolution on paper to keep your motivation strong. Develop this list over time. Keep your list with you and refer to it when you need help keeping your resolve.
Outline your planHow exactly are you going to do it? Write down steps. From the start until the end, from day to day or per week depending on the resolution. Consider if January is the right time to start? Don’t postpone but be realistic.
For example: Finding friends locally:
Step 1: I will research activities on internet and ask ‘so and so’ before 14th of January that interest me and where I will find likeminded people.
Step 2: I will apply for the photography course/ go to the Eindhoven Expat Meetup/ get a gym subscription before the 25th of January.
Step 3: I will ask for people’s contact details and call them before the 15th of February to make a date, etc., etc.
Talk about it Tell everyone you know. Family members, friends or colleagues who will be there to support your resolve to change yourself for the better or can check on your progress. The best case scenario is to find yourself a buddy who shares your New Year’s resolution and motivate each other. Also to celebrate together when you succeed is an additional motivation.
Track your progressKeep track of each small success you make towards reaching your larger goal. Short-term goals are easier to keep, and small accomplishments will help keep you motivated. Instead of focusing on having the dream job, be aware of the individual steps you are making. (I went to the international recruitment agencies in Eindhoven, I made a LinkedIn profile, I have looked at adverts for English speaking staff, I took a ‘how to write a Dutch CV’ workshop). You are making your progress visible.
Reward yourselfThis does not mean that you can eat an entire box of chocolates if your resolution is to diet. Instead, celebrate your ‘in between’ success by treating yourself to something that you enjoy that does not contradict your resolution. If you’ve been sticking to your promise to learn Dutch, for example, perhaps your reward could be going to a renowned Dutch theater play after the 8th lesson.
Stick to itExperts say it takes about 21 days for a new activity, such as exercising, to become a habit, and 6 months for it to become part of your personality or life style. Your new healthful habits will become second-nature in no time.
Don’t beat yourself upObsessing over the occasional slip won’t help you achieve your goal. Do the best you can each day, and take each day one at a time.
Keep tryingIf your resolution has run a bit or totally out of steam by mid-February, don’t despair. Start over again! (And again, and again). There’s no reason you can’t make a “New Year’s resolution” any time of the year. Last but not least, if you need support or assistance to change something that is really important to you or something which (you think) will be very difficult in any way, the expert expat coach is there to help.
Irene is a life/career coach and a regular contributor for Eindhoven News. She can coach you in personal or professional matters. Also she gives workshops in English about (Dutch) CV writing, she trains people in Interview Skills (do’s and don’ts in The Netherlands) or Stress Management. Check her website for more information www.martensmondialcoaching.nl or mail [email protected] for expert advice. [nbsp]
By Irene Martens, Expat Coach/Trainer