With the new year comes new goals and resolutions backed by enthusiasm, energy, good intentions, and sometimes a few adult beverages. However, it turns out it's a lot harder to keep to these resolutions then we think, and many people aren't able to stick to them for the whole year.
In an effort to help you keep your word, we asked performance psychologist Bill Beswick to suggest ways to ensure your resolution lasts.
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1. Commit it to paper
Decide what your goal is and why you’re doing it, then write it down with a deadline for you to achieve it. Make sure you will regularly see your list of goals; create a diary reminder on your phone, for example, or stick it to your fridge as a constant spur to keep it fresh in your mind.
It needn’t be your action plan as such, just the eventual target, whether it’s a specific ride you’re working towards or a weight or fitness target. This will serve to motivate you when you’re flagging or possibly tempted to go ‘off plan’.
2. Create an action plan
Break your resolution into micro-manageable steps that are realistic yet challenging. These have their own dates and targets on a smaller scale. If you’re training for a major race, this will be your weekly ride schedule: distances covered, times achieved plus comments on how you feel.
Set relevant benchmarks for where you want to be after one month, three months and six months, say — or by a next birthday or the start of the Tour. In the case of weight management, this could be a food diary and body fat record.
3. Take some inspiration for motivation
Have a few motivational ploys to hand for when your progress hits a plateau. In the case of weight-loss targets, studies have found that the most effective plans are those where participants have to part with cash if they don’t meet their goals. Alternatively, set targets in tandem with a fellow cyclist.
You’re more likely to stick to a planned training ride if you know you’ll be letting a mate down by skipping it, or giving her or him the advantage by leaving them to train when you’re not.
4. Start measuring — and do it on Mondays
Don’t let your resolution rule your life. Set aside specific days to focus on planning and progress updates.
According to researchers from John Hopkins University in the US, Monday is the most effective day of the week for kick-starting resolutions, evaluating progress and setting micro-goals for the coming week.
Mondays act as a weekly call to action within your calendar, helping to periodise and update your training plan. Also, set aside days for celebrating your success once you hit your targets.