Making a New Year’s resolution is easy but actually sticking to it is altogether more difficult. The Echo spoke to people who have kept their vow, as well as those who help others succeed, to find out their tips.
WE’VE all vowed to kick a habit or get fit on January 1 and then broken the promise by the start of February, but many people do manage to stick to their New Year’s resolution.
The reasons for success are not exactly rocket science – it’s simply about planning and resolve.
For example, if your vow is to lose weight, you have to factor a gym schedule into your weekly routine or plan a diet and then stick to it by hook or by crook.
But, of course, that is easier said than done, which is why so many resolutions fall by the wayside.
However, it can be done, as Cheltenham resident and Echo reporter Aled Thomas, 44, proved when he quit smoking.
He said: “In December 1996 I was smoking, well, it’s hard to say. Let’s call it 200 cigarettes a week.
“My resolution that year was to give up. But it was also my resolution not to start that at midnight on New Year’s Eve. That felt like too much pressure and an arbitrary date.
“I smoked my last cigarette sometime on a Sunday in mid-January. I can’t remember the actual date. I haven’t had one since. Actually I did take one on my stag night in 1997. I’d had a drink. But it was so awful I gave it back after a puff.
“Like pretty much any smoker I’d tried many times before to give up, so what was different about this time?
“The first thing was that I was ready. I wasn’t giving up for my health. I wanted to be free of the grip of nicotine. I wasn’t losing smoking, I was freeing myself from it.
“Secondly, I took help. I used nicotine gum, especially in the early days. Will power and sweating it out cold turkey hadn’t worked before. I figured that actually succeeding was more important than doing it the hard way.
“And thirdly, there was a moment about three or four days in. I was leaving work, a time when I’d always light up. I thought to myself: ‘I could do with a cig right now.’
“But my next thought was that I could handle that, I wasn’t dying for one, and if it didn’t get worse then I’d be all right.
“It didn’t get worse and, one drunken experiment apart, I’ve not had a cigarette since. And what’s more, have never wanted one either.”
Lisa Wright, from Hester’s Way, has managed to shed four stone after vowing to lose weight at the start of 2012.
The 32-year-old has slimmed down from a size 20 to a 14 and said it was due to planning ahead and discipline.
“There was no magic trick to it,” she said. “It was just about making it part of my routine. I go to the gym after work three times a week and I keep to a strict diet which I planned out.”
Personal trainer Dan Fivey helps people stick to their resolutions at The Gym in Cheltenham’s High Street.
He told us some of the tips he gives clients to help them succeed.
“You need to plan how you are going to change your lifestyle. Are you going to start exercising? Where are you going to do this: in a gym or with a personal trainer?
“What type of exercise are you going to do? Look at how you’re going to fit these new plans into your life. Make sure you book your workouts in your diary.
“Make goals. You need to make goals to help measure your progress.
“Write a food diary. If part of your goal is to improve your diet you need to keep an eye on what you’re eating.
“This will show you how much good food and how much ‘rubbish’ you are putting into your body each day.”
He added: “Be prepared for lapses. This is a normal part of the process – nobody is perfect.
“It is important for you to take a moment to recognise that you got side-tracked, but don’t use it as an excuse to throw in the towel. Every day is a new chance to start over, so return to your healthy lifestyle immediately.”