It's that time of year again where our steely New Year's resolve is being challenged. If it feels as though temptation lurks around every corner and you are close to slipping back into old bad habits, here's how to boost your willpower and get that control back.
Whatever your resolution, it's essential not to try and change your entire life in one fell swoop. Taking on (or taking away) too much at once is more likely to put you in the fast lane to failure than setting sensible goals. Whether you are hoping to get a grip on your finances, lose weight or quit smoking, taking baby steps might mean you start slowly, but by achieving smaller goals you will start to see what success looks like, and put you on that path to ultimate success.
Break the routine
Physical cravings are just part of the problem when it comes to giving something up - the habit itself is just as tricky to break. Avoiding those moments you know will tempt you can be a useful tool, so changing your routine or altering your environment could be the key. If you're hoping to get fit, try a morning run or visit to the gym instead of after a long days' work, and if that after-dinner cigarette is the one you just can't do without, get up and do something to take your mind off it, whether it's a walk round the block or washing the dishes. By breaking your usual routine, you'll distract yourself from old habits.
Research has shown that some dips in self-control are caused by a drop in blood glucose levels. When you're hungry, tired or stressed out, the body's glucose levels drop, making it all the more difficult to resist temptation. That doesn't mean that you should pig out all day, but eating small meals more frequently, particularly those high in protein, will boost your willpower throughout the day.
Give yourself a reminder
Whether you are starting a new habit or leaving an old one behind, it's a good idea to occasionally remind yourself exactly why you're doing it... and be totally honest about your reasons. Is there a killer dress you're determined to get into? Would that weekly cigarette spend pay for a well-earned sunshine break? However small or selfish the goal might seem, visualise the end result of all the hardship and you might just find you've passed that latest temptation by.
Facing any big change alone can be daunting, so don't be afraid to seek advice or help. It could be as simple as telling friends and family what your goals are, it could be trying a local support group. By creating a support network, you'll have somewhere to turn when things get rough and someone with whom you can celebrate success.
Did you manage to stick to your resolution last year? What was the secret to your success? Leave your comments below...