Let's take, for example, the resolution which I most often see bloggers making: "be healthier". If you're not feeling your best after a wonderfully gluttonous festive period, this could be a really good goal for the year. Wouldn't it be lovely to reach the end of 2015 energised, with clear skin and able to jog up five flights of stairs without ending up out of breath? Fantastic.
But, to me, "be healthier" isn't a resolution - it's a goal. It's something you hope to achieve. It's the result you're aiming for but it isn't a plan of action.
I'm suggesting that you forget "be healthier". It is an intimidatingly huge task to set yourself. The sheer amount of healthy ideas bouncing around in your head is likely to overwhelm you. You may find yourself not knowing where to start.
So what should you do instead?
Make the Small Steps your ResolutionsInstead of promising to become a perfectly healthy new person, get specific. What do you actually need to resolve to do in order to achieve your goal?
In this example, you probably need to eat better food and/or get more exercise.
But that's not specific enough.
How are you going to get yourself to eat better food? Are you going to swap your sugary treats for healthy snacks? Are you going to add vegetables to all homemade meals?
How are you going to get more exercise? Are you going to join a gym or start a class? Are you going to take the stairs at work?
Those are some much more useful resolutions. They give you concrete tasks to concentrate on and complete.
Identify Your Stumbling BlocksThe chances are you've tried to "be healthier" before. You've probably sworn to ditch the sugar time and time again. So what stopped you succeeding?
Did you find yourself wandering hopelessly around the supermarket, unsure what you could snack on that wasn't crisps? That's good to know - resolve to spend some time this week researching healthy (easy!) snacks; take a list with you when you go shopping.
Did you find yourself impulse buying sweet things, even though you planned not to? Do online shopping if it's the only way to rein yourself in.
Did you keep buying chocolate because you needed change for the bus? Get a bus pass or download the payment app. It will save you a fortune in the long run.
The same applies to getting more exercise. If you planned to run but kept being put off by the rain, do something indoors. If you joined a gym but never went, pay for a block of classes or get a friend to accompany you. If you hated exercising in public or after work or at weekends or on your own, admit that to yourself now and find some way around it.
Don't Pile on the Pressure All at OnceJanuary first can seem like a brilliantly symbolic time to start afresh but if you ask too much of yourself all at once, you're likely to feel overwhelmed.
Try sitting down with your new diary or calendar and making smaller commitments for the coming weeks and months. Give yourself time to get used to each new part of your routine before you add in the next.
So, perhaps on January first you could write a list of healthy snacks and that first week you could commit to snacking better and cooking one meal from scratch. In a couple of weeks' time, you could add to that by resolving to cook two meals from scratch or to trying out three healthy packed lunch ideas. And so on over the next few months.
Going from five minute microwave meals to half an hour of cooking every day (never mind meal planning) is a huge jump so figure out a realistic schedule which works for you. Perhaps you could aim to be cooking most of your meals from scratch (everyone needs the occasional takeaway pizza) by, say, early June.
But, I Don't Want to "Be Healthier"Fab. But these principles can be applied to most goals.
Whatever it is that you want to achieve, approach it the same way: break it down into several small resolutions rather than one overarching goal; get specific about how these tasks can be achieved - pre-empt your own excuses; and space your tasks out over the course of a few months.
Wishing you all the best of luck!