The New Year can be a time for revisiting goals and setting new ones for the coming year.  Below are seven tips to help you to stay on track and ensure that your new habits become part of your regular routine.

1. Be smart
By smart, I mean, set SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.  For more information on this see my earlier blog post on goal setting.  

2. Action planning
If you imagine your goal as being the 'what' you'd like to achieve then your action plan is the 'how' you'll achieve it.  Big changes can be daunting so breaking them down into smaller steps can make the overall task seem more manageable.  It will also help you to spot any potential difficulties and identify any areas you may need extra support.  You can print out this free action plan worksheet to help you get started.

3. Set interim goals
Setting smaller, interim goals which will lead to an overall goal will help you to stay motivated and focused.  This is because these will take less time to achieve and feel more manageable.  

4. Log progress
Keeping a log of your progress will help you to stay on course as you work towards your goal.  It will provide you with a record of your progress and this can be reviewed whenever you feel your motivation levels dipping. A log can also act as a boost for your self confidence as it provides concrete evidence of where you started and where you are now in your journey.  For instance if your goal is to get up by 9am on weekdays you could make a daily record of the times you have been getting up so that you can see changes and improvements as they occur.

5. Be patient
As the saying goes, 'change takes time, so give it time'.  It's easy to get disheartened if you seem to making slow progress so be patient with yourself.  Think about how long it took to form those not so healthy habits.  It's likely that you were behaving in this way for months or even years before you decided to make a change.  It therefore seems reasonable to allow yourself time to unlearn these behaviours and settle into a new routine. 

6. A slip up does not mean failure
It can be frustrating if you have a bad day and you may feel like you have failed in trying to reach your goal.  Try to remember that occasional slip ups are inevitable and mistakes often teach us valuable lessons.  Be kind to yourself, think about all the reasons you set yourself this goal and start the next day afresh.  

7. Reward yourself
Rewarding yourself when you reach your interim targets can really help to make you feel good about the changes you are making and stay on track.  However, be mindful that your rewards don't conflict with your goals, for instance if you are trying to lose weight you then treating yourself to an unhealthy meal may not be ideal.  You may want to buy yourself something new that you've wanted like a new item of clothing or some special toiletries.  If you are on a tight budget then you may need to be more creative.  Some low cost treats could include giving yourself to a DIY pampering session, watching a film, curling up with a good book for an hour of two, downloading a free game or app for your phone or searching online for free online games.