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12 Ways To Make Sure Your New Year’s Resolution Sticks

12 Ways To Make Sure Your New Year’s Resolution Sticks

With the season of New Year’s resolutions upon us, there is one thing likely to be troubling many—if not all—of us. How do we make them stick? Below I have compiled 12 ways that will help you make sure your resolution doesn’t fade to gray on the 3rd of January.

1. Prepare In Advance

Just because it’s called a “New Year’s” resolution doesn’t mean you can’t start preparing right now. Don’t just announce something at a party 15 seconds before you welcome the New Year, decide on which goal to pursue in advance and start getting into the specifics.

2. Start Small

Don’t get overwhelmed by the need to “go big” because of the occasion. Be smart, start small. When you get a better feel for what is manageable for you, you can gradually increase the difficulty and commitment.

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3. Make A Detailed Action Plan

There’s no need to outline every second, just get the daily and weekly plans and goals down so you have something to work on. The best kind of plan, and only one that truly works, is the one that gets improved as you go along. If your goal is to quit excessive drinking or smoking, instead of outlining the daily actions, you can focus on things to do when you feel completely overwhelmed by the need to have a drink or smoke.

4. Turn It Into A Habit

Imagine this scenario, you wake up, wash your face, brush your teeth and then spend the next 30 minutes working towards your goal. Face unblinking, not even thinking about what you are doing because it has become second nature. This is probably the ultimate dream for anyone who has a goal. The way to get there is daily commitment.

Aim to set aside exactly the same time every day for working towards your goal. Try to never have a day where you do absolutely nothing. That can often lead to doubts and eventually giving up. For people who want to quit a particular habit, a good idea can often be to find a healthier replacement. When you would usually go out for a smoke, you can try to meditate, or drink ice cold water, or do a mini-tea ceremony.

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5. Don’t Tell People Too Soon, But When It’s Time, Shout It From The Tree Tops

One study shows that by announcing your goals while they are still vague, you create a false sense of accomplishment, and because they are too vague to follow through on in a comprehensive manner, nothing happens. In another study, where the goals were very specific, telling other people boosted the success rate significantly. So, while it’s important to leverage social accountability, don’t rush it. I know it can be exciting, but you should use that energy towards your goal, not towards telling other people about it.

6. Track Your Progress

First of all this is can be a way to determine what it is you are doing that has the largest effect. If you’re a believer in the Pareto principle (the 80/20 rule), 20% of your actions are responsible for 80% of the results. That means that some of what you do is likely superfluous. So, if you track your progress, you can for example focus on different things and see what yields the best results, and then trim the fat. This is also a way to reinforce the fact that you are actually on your way to succeeding. And the longer you succeed, the harder it will be to suddenly give up.

7. Focus On The Positive

Perspective has a lot to do with how we experience our daily lives. If you choose to focus on the negative, you are much more likely to give up than if you manage to always focus on the progress you do make, instead of the set backs. Even if you’re usually a Negative Nancy, you can trick yourself into becoming more positive by always making a big deal out of progress. Handwriting huge check marks next to every day you managed to stick to your goals, or mini-celebrating every minor milestone can be reminders to keep your focus where it should be.

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8. Be Careful When You Reward Yourself

A study has shown that focusing too much on progress can tempt people to be counterproductive. This seems to mainly be a problem with people whose aim is to lose weight. After making progress they would have a tendency to reward themselves with unhealthy foods, whereas rewarding yourself with a drink after staying sober seems a bit too obviously counter productive.

The problem with not acknowledging your progress is that you will lose steam, possibly even giving up in the long run. So, celebrate your victories, but be careful that it’s not too counter productive. If you’re losing weight, try rewarding yourself with your favorite things besides food: maybe a warm bath and some classical music, your favorite hobby, hanging out with friends, or watching a great movie.

9. Partner With Someone

Other than allowing you to escape the dreadful feeling of challenging something completely alone, there is another aspect to partnering. You can keep each other in check. When you’re attempting something on your own, it’s easy to be lenient and give yourself days off for no reason. But a partner will see through that bull, and keep you on your toes, always moving forward. Of course, if you notice that he or she is becoming a bad influence, try to distance yourself as much as possible. And if he or she is doing better than you, don’t let that demotivate you. Awaken your competitive instincts and catch up!

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10. Try Stickk

Recent studies have shown that people who have a money incentive lose more weight than those who don’t. And people have a tendency to prefer avoiding losses rather than the potential for making money. So, rather than promising yourself a treat if you succeed, you could try Stickk. Stickk is a website where you end up giving money to a charity you disagree with if you should fail. Of course, how motivating this is depends on the amount of money you choose to commit, as there is no standard amount. If you succeed, you get your money back to do with whatever you want.

11. Truly Believe You Can Do It

Many of you would argue that this should be the first step, but that’s not necessarily the case. I’ve seen people with no faith going through the motions, seeing some progress and then finally believing it was possible. In fact, I’ve been one of them as well. Once you reach a point where you find yourself thinking, “Wow, I can really do this!” then it’s a lot easier to leverage that belief to commit harder to the goal you have set for yourself. That’s the reason why we start small and work our way up, instead of starting out failing and confirming doubts we had about our ability to push through.

12. Even If You Fail Once, Keep Going

It’s the second you admit failure and throw in the towel that you fail, and not a second before. It doesn’t matter if you caved and smoked one cigarette, as long as you get back on track. Never make a big deal about a small failure, it can really mess with your mojo. I remember one time I caved and ate unhealthy food for one day and I almost completely gave up the idea of losing weight, defaulting into my old thinking where I would blame genetics and fate. There is still plenty of time left in the New Year. Don’t let your commitment go to waste by giving up early.

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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