Are you planning drastic, big hairy new year's resolutions?
Stop! Making tiny (and I mean tiny) changes will be more lasting in the long run.
There is something almost intoxicating about the idea of making a completely fresh start to a new year. You tell yourself that you'll wave goodbye to your old self, with it's bad habits and mood swings, and replace it with a gleaming, new version of your yourself. Someone who eats well, never procrastinates, and skips joyfully to the gym 5 times a week.
But, as you have probably already realised, this rarely works - it makes you feel virtuous for the first few days, but, worse when your grand plans inevitably collapse.
Psychologists believe that small goals...tiny in fact.... become far more effective in the long haul. Example: If you are trying to maintain a healthy weight then perhaps eat your dinner from a smaller plate...Tiny habits like this often take less than 30 seconds per day to achieve are a proven way to become happier, healthier and more productive in 2017 with only the smallest investment of time and effort.
1. Take a daily 5 minute dose of nature - you don't need two weeks in the Drakensberg to feel nature's happiness boosting effects. Just five minutes of movement in a green environment makes a measurable difference to mental health.....place your desk facing a window which looks out onto greenery and blue space and watch your 'duvet' days drop! Merely looking at photographs of green scenes can help. So go to the park today or sit in your garden or at the very least change your computer wallpaper to a natural-looking green.
2. Nudge yourself towards more sensible spending - even the tiniest of hints can help a new habit. Stick a piece of a posit-it note over the chip on your credit card and you will be forced to think slightly harder before using it, which might be enough to eliminate impulse purchases. Or is you head to the shops with nothing but R50 in cash in your pocket and no debit or credit card, you needn't worry about resisting the urge to spend R100 on luxury treats; you just won't have the option.
3. Improve your love life for free - as a culture we are obsessed with grand romantic gestures: the surprise trip to Paris, or an expensive piece of jewellery. But love does not work like that. Small signs of appreciation are far better predictors of a successful union. Couples who take a moment to discuss the high points of each other's days report more happiness and intimacy according to researcher Angela Hicks. Resolve to take a moment, daily, to connect with your partner making eye contact. The results can be more effective than a Parisian city break.
"With love, you won't put 10 times the spark into a dull relationship with a gift that's 10 times bigger"
Excerpt from Oliver Burkeman, Psychologies