I went swimming on Monday, as I do every morning, and noticed that there were only 3 people in the pool, as opposed to 10 last week. “Blue Monday”  as we all know is supposed to be the day that most people give up their New Year’s Resolutions, if they even got round to making them.

As we enter February, this ‘dropping off’ of resolve continues apace. At this rate I will have the pool to myself!

It got me thinking about something that happened to me on New Year’s day.  When, in a very unscientific experiment, I asked a group of my friends what their resolutions were. There was an awkward silence. You know the ones where everyone starts looking at their feet, or in this case, at the next mince pie. I waited a couple of minutes and asked again and then one of them said;

“I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions, because it’s like admitting your guilty secrets, that you are overweight, or drink too much, or are obsessed with Chocolate”.  (She didn’t say this last one, I added it, as its one of mine).

I was really surprised, so I asked if that’s what everyone else was thinking and sure enough, they had all been thinking the same thing.

So I suggested a few things, which I use in my coaching to help people to focus on what they really want and get there.

(1)    Start with the right phrase.  “I want to START… being a better manager/lover/fighter/more strategic”, it helps us to think about ourselves in a positive light. It also means that when we flounder, we can always get back to starting again. Progress on the goal or New Years’ Resolution is always possible to regain because we promised we would ‘start’ not stop.

(2)    Believe in yourself.  A very clever Psychologist called Bandura coined the phrase ‘Self Efficacy’, which is a fancy name for self-belief. It has been shown repeatedly that self-belief can make the difference between success and failure, almost regardless of capability. Building self-belief, by breaking down goals into achievable steps removes barriers and creates a pathway to succeed. It’s easier to start small and work up from there.

(3)    Go with the flow. We all know the ‘fight vs flight’ response to anxiety. But the lesser known ‘freeze’ is something I see a lot in my coaching practice. People feel overwhelmed and stuck. They don’t know how to ‘unstick themselves’, which means that they miss out on promotion, moving jobs, travelling abroad. Using simple tools and exercises such as Motivational Maps © can help them ‘go with the flow’ and this makes progress fun, so more likely to work.

By now we had finished the mince pies and my friends were pulling on their boots to go for a walk. As we trudged around the field, each of them took time to share what they had decided to focus on in 2019, and I shared my chocolate, somewhat begrudgingly…

Have you kept your New Year’s Resolutions?


Leadership and Team Coach Kate O’Loughlin has experience working with Senior Leaders to help them to transform their organisation. She has a strong track record of working in both the private and public sectors, coaching both individuals and teams.

Read more blogs on Personal Growth – Using the Wheel of Life to look at Where you are Currently and Where You Would Like to Be