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Welcome to the first blog post of 2017 and the start of another bright shiny new year. May 2017 be a fantastic year for you! 
Having greeted all those we’ve met in a similarly upbeat manner for the last couple of days, it’s interesting that the majority of responses have been much less cheerful. Verging on the positively grumpy at times (!). 
(Yes, it’s a couple of years out of date, but we thought it beautifully summed up the usual approach to goal setting generally and new year’s resolutions in particular!) 
Maybe it’s the excesses of the festive season now coming home to roost. Burgeoning waistlines. Depleted bank balances. Not forgetting those “OMG did I really do / say that” moments. 
Or, perhaps, it’s the new year equivalent of the “Monday Morning Syndrome” with the realities of those hastily chosen new year’s resolutions starting to sink in. 
All the things you enjoy doing that you’re going to STOP DOING this year. 
Or, all too often, someone else has decided that you’re going to stop doing (!). 
It’s no surprise that smoking and drinking are top of this particular list. 
Then there are those other things you really don’t enjoy doing at all, that you’re going to START DOING in the vain hope that your life will be transformed. 
Or, again, someone else has decided for you. 
And, if you’re really unlucky, based a festive season gift around (!). So now you have something you didn’t ask for, to do an activity you don’t want to do. Talk about a double whammy. 
Again there are no surprises that going on a diet / taking more exercise feature at the top of this list. 
Rather than starting the lovely shiny new year with a skip in your step – and song in your heart – you spend the first part of January – at least – in “doom, gloom and despondency” mode. What a way to start a new year. 
This isn’t the first time we’ve talked about this traditional way of starting the year and – in theory – improving your life. Year after year we see people doing the same thing over and over again with the same results. 
Or, more accurately, non results. Guaranteed failure. 100%. 
Yet, no one stops to ask why on earth they do the same thing over and over again. One that doesn’t produce the results they would like. And makes them miserable in the process. 
So why is this? 
The easy answer is that everyone else is doing it and it’s seen as the thing to do. 
However, if you look a little deeper, you’ll see it’s underpinned by some very nonsensical logic. That you can only get something you desire by being completely miserable in the process. 
It’s as if being miserable now is an acceptable price to pay for the hope you may be happy at some – unspecified – date in the future. 
Now that you’ve stopped to think about it – probably for the first time – doesn’t it sound completely mad? 
While it may sound rather blunt, doing anything that makes you miserable NOW in the hope that the end result will make you happy in the FUTURE never works. Full stop. End of story. 
To start with this approach makes whatever you’re trying to achieve much, much harder to do. Rather than doing something because you enjoy doing it – and feeling inspired by the process – you’re relying on sheer willpower. Instead of going with the flow, you have to constantly force things to keep them on track. 
Added to this – if you do manage to achieve the desired result – so much struggle and negative energy has been invested in the process that you won’t feel happy when you get there. More likely, you’ll feel exhausted by all the effort and disappointed that the struggle continues as you attempt to maintain the result. 
Time and again we hear people say how disappointed they are that the end result didn’t give them the sense of achievement and happiness they expected. How it wasn’t worth all the struggle and unhappiness. And yet they keep repeating this process over and over again in the hope that it’ll produce different results next time. 
Or as Einstein so eloquently put it: 
“Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” 
So what’s the answer? 
Well, as usual, the answer is simple and the exact opposite of everything you’ve been told before. 
To start with, when considering making any change or goal – including new year’s resolutions – it’s really important to START SMALL. And “yes” we know it goes against everything else you’ve ever been told, which is to choose big, scary changes. 
However if you stop and think about it for a moment, this “all or nothing” approach doesn’t make any sense at all. 
After all, you wouldn’t expect someone who’d never swum before to make it across the English Channel unaided on the first attempt, would you? But that’s exactly what you’re doing when you attempt big scary changes without having put in a little practice first. It’s no wonder that you end up sinking in the attempt, is it? 
Making changes – stepping outside your comfort zone – is scary enough without going to these extremes. If you haven’t made any changes for a while you’ll need to get in a little practice before working your way up to bigger – more scary – changes. After all, this is the way you naturally learn any new skill. Not only does it make a successful outcome much more likely but easier to achieve too. 
This is the reason we always recommend only making small changes to your life, at least to start with. One at a time. Building one on another to make larger changes. This way you gradually build up your confidence and can then tackle bigger changes more easily and confidently. 
However, just as important, is the way in which you approach any change. However much someone has told you that you should make a particular change – or you’re read it in the paper / on line / heard it on the TV – UNLESS you have the right motivation for making it, you’re doomed to failure. 
And by the right motivation we mean that you must have a genuinely positive reason for desiring to make that change. One that fills you with a positive emotion – ie, makes you really happy – when you think about doing it. Not to mention achieving it. 
This means that you’ll feel happy while you’re making the change part of your life AND when you’ve achieved it. 
Why is this so important?  
Because it moves you away from having to rely on willpower – forcing the change to happen – to being inspired to make it. And once you’re inspired, change is so much easier. Life starts to flow and you’re on your way. 
So why not start this new year on a positive note? Focus on small – less scary – new year’s resolutions for all those little things that make you happy. And, having built firm foundations, you can then add to them over and over again during the rest of the year. 
As always, the choice is yours. 
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