Forget big resolutions: here’s how to make bitesize life changes this year

By | January 5, 2020

But what if you think smaller? What if you were to make lots of bitesize changes, but make them in all areas of your life? We asked our experts for advice…

Allison Keating, Psychotherapist
Allison Keating, Psychotherapist

Allison Keating

Psychotherapist

Make time for one another

The kids, the boss, that deadline, the friend in need, life and all the appointments, yours and theirs, all take major time and energy, your two biggest adult resources.

At the end of the day rather than saving the best for last with your nearest and dearest, do you feel completely deflated and empty?

Never mind the cup, do you feel like an empty mug and find the three ‘I’s (irritability, impatience and intolerance) are well and truly present as you go into fault finding mode on what they didn’t do as you compare lists and who is doing more?

Take a memory journey back to when you got together first, when you had time to luxuriate in each other. At the beginning you noticed and probably told them and everyone how great they were. This nourished the relationship and connection, as you both felt valued, loved, seen and really understood.

Stepping back to the present, do you find yourself only pointing out the bad? Resentment in relationships build and can take root very easily, but can be more challenging to dismantle. Take and make time for you and your relationship as it is the bedrock that supports all the other relationships. Sit down together with your calendars and carve out time for each other and for your selves – time really is a gift.

Be kind

Relationships don’t come in boxes but if they did it might be helpful to put a ‘fragile – handle with care’ warning label on it. If you resolve to work on one thing this year in your relationship that would serve you very well, it would be to be kind with and to each other.

Karl Henry, Personal trainer
Karl Henry, Personal trainer

To be kind in your words, to pause when you find you are being triggered and those sharp and reactive words of ‘you never’ or ‘you always’ are about to spill out. To hit the pause button when you feel angry, hurt or upset and to bring that kindness and compassion to yourself, asking ‘what is this really about’ and to tune into your answer. Kindness is an inside job, start with you and it will feed into your relationship.

Fitness

Karl Henry

Personal trainer

Do something different

New year, new you always starts around now, but this year let’s try to make it a year-long approach, not just a quick fix solution that so many people do. I want to give you two simple changes that I want you to make this year that will help you to get in better shape and, more importantly, stay in better shape too.

My first change is exactly that, CHANGE. If you do the same exercise routine or sport or class over and over again, it’s boring for you and for your body – and life is just too short. By changing your workout as often as possible, you keep yourself interested, motivated, focused and the body is forced to adapt faster too. Change your speed, time, weight, reps, sport or pretty much anything.

Sinead Ryan, consumer expert
Sinead Ryan, consumer expert

Take time to recover

My second change is recovery. Recovery is often one of the most overlooked elements of fitness that people certainly neglect. By improving your recovery you will improve the results you get from the workout and you will begin to recover faster and feel better too. Begin by focusing on your food after the workout, getting that meal of lean protein and vegetables in, ensure to hydrate your body properly and then begin to focus on your sleep, which is where the body really recovers. Tech-free bedroom, blackout blinds, caffeine reduction and eating earlier in the evening are all simple ways that you can improve your sleep and recovery.

Remember, fitness and health should always be for the long term and adjust yours so that it is. Love it, enjoy it, change it and recover properly and you will be healthier than ever this year.

Personal Finances

Sinead Ryan

Consumer expert

Stop letting your money run out before the month does

Print out one month’s bank statement. Use a highlighter pen to mark each regular standing order/direct debit. Do you know where it’s going and what it’s for? If not, get rid of it, or find out. You could be paying old subscriptions, premiums or contributions for something you no longer need.

Then, work out how much you need every month for ‘walking around’ money: lunch, newspaper, coffee, tips, small purchases. Live either on cash or by card only for a week. Literally track every spend on your bank app, or by keeping receipts. We all spend far more than we think we do on miscellaneous, small purchases. Stop using Contactless payments. It’s too easy to run away with your spending.

Then, guesstimate carefully the irregular spends: hairdressing, window cleaning, vet bills, dentists and doctors, bin collection, birthdays, back to school, holidays, Christmas, etc. Add and divide by 12.

You now have your total average monthly spend (AMS). This is the amount you should be living off; everything else goes into one of your savings accounts.

Judymay Murphy, Author and supercoach
Judymay Murphy, Author and supercoach

Start saving mindfully Not just for a ‘rainy day’, as 70pc of the population do, according to bank research. Save specifically for short (e.g. next year’s holiday), medium (e.g. new car) and long (e.g. pension, education) term goals.

Set up a range of deposit accounts (they’re free) to feed off your current account, and crucially, NAME them. Be very specific. “Benidorm 2020” or “Aoife’s college fund” or “My New Car 2023”. If you get the urge to make an impulse purchase you now have to choose which account to ‘steal’ from, which is a psychological barrier. Lumping all your savings together is too easy.

On payday, drop in anything over your average monthly spend (AMS) in whatever proportion you like, to each account. The amount is not as important as the habit. Treat your savings accounts as you would your household bills, i.e. paid on time, rather than with ‘left over’ money, which you will never have.

For long-term savings, get independent, paid for, financial advice.

Wellbeing

Judymay Murphy

Author and supercoach

Work on your routine

Rather than thinking about what results you want out of the New Year, like wanting to be smoke free or wanting an immaculate house, think about the tiny behavioural changes you can make. What can you take care of, even when you’re tired and grumpy and forgetting things? It might be something as simple as setting an alarm that tells you when it’s time to go to sleep. A lot of us get lost in social media and we lose a lot of beneficial time in the morning because of the way we behave at night. Get a bedtime routine going, and more importantly, design something great to wake up to. If you’re watching a movie at night, leave the last half hour of it until the morning, and watch it with a lovely breakfast. Or instead of staying in the pub for an extra few hours, have a breakfast party with people you like to hang out with.

Condition your brain to be happier

There’s another thing called ‘priming’ – your brain can go in several directions if you don’t tell it what to do. If you’re bored and stressed in your life, your brain will straight away go to that. Give yourself commands early on in the day, and that will put you on a better path. Ask questions like, ‘what would a fun day look like?’ or ‘what part of the day can I actually enjoy?’ It conditions you to put yourself on a better path every morning. Later in the day, have a list of positive feelgood emotions to hand. If you’re telling yourself that you want to be happy, the brain doesn’t really know what to do. Instead, be more focused and tell yourself that you are going to be calm, or excited, or playful. If you have that menu to choose from, your body and brain will follow.

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