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By: Dr Afiniki Akanet, author of Fortitude and Life Without Coffee (Choosing Happiness Over Stress)
Posted on: Dec 16, 2020

5 Rules for Making New Year’s Resolutions


What will your 2021 resolutions look like? Will you vow to continue good practices? Maybe you plan to change an undesired habit, accomplish personal goals, or otherwise improve your life? Whatever they may be, Medical GP, published author, and Mum-of-two Dr. Afiniki Akanet, shares 5 simple rules for making better and more achievable New Year's resolutions.


1. Don’t!

Studies show that about 90% of ​New Year’s resolutions are broken within six weeks, and less than a quarter of people stick to the changes all year. The commonest New Year’s resolutions have to do with exercise, weight loss, diet, money, alcohol, smoking, and time management.

I do not remember the last time I made New Year’s resolutions. I believe every day is a brand new chance to change and be better. If you want to be healthier, richer, or nicer, you can start making changes today. Small changes and targets can add up to achieve a great goal. Don’t wait for New Year’s Eve. If it needs sorting, start today.

2. Review

It is still worth reviewing the past year to decide if there was anything that could have been done better. Instead of blaming everyone else for our problems and losses, we can reflect to see if there is any way we can improve ourselves or our lifestyles to reduce the likelihood of ​stress or complications in the New Year.

We are often advised not to compare ourselves to others, but it is still worth thinking about what our peers are doing, to see if there is anything we admire about their lives or achievements that we could be working on achieving ourselves. Waiting till you are eighty years old to sit and count regrets is not a good plan.

3. Imagine

Imagine what a perfect year for you would look like. What would you like to achieve in the next few months, and how can you make it happen? What needs to happen for your “Happy New Year” to become a reality? It is difficult to achieve goals without vision. Those dreams may seem too big or impossible, but if you break things down into smaller steps, you will be getting closer to your dream with every year that passes.

Circumstances beyond our control can sometimes force us to change direction or tact, but we must not let challenges kill our vision. Some goals that had to be shelved in 2020 can be reassessed in a new light to see if they are still relevant, and whether the COVID-19 ​pandemic has surprisingly provided new opportunities to make that (or something better) happen for you in the future.

Young Woman Reflecting on New Years Resolutions

4. Act

As they say, if wishes were horses, even beggars would ride. Talk is cheap. Are we willing to do what it takes to achieve those goals? We might need to change our attitude to certain situations or people to be able to achieve some goals. It will be difficult to have a happy marriage if you constantly say how disgusted or disappointed you are with your spouse, for example.

Some goals need for us to take action so that situations can change. Taking action can be as simple as making better daily choices, apologizing first, speak considerately, being more intentional with our time, creating a ​savings or joint account, setting up direct debits, or cutting out some unnecessary distractions

5. Grow

Realise that life is not a race. We grow as we choose to change and become better every day. Avoid putting too much time pressure on yourself, and enjoy the process of growth. Take one day at a time, be grateful for the progress you are making but do not let “good” become the enemy of “best”. Enjoy the journey of change. An ​overweight person who miraculously loses 20 kilograms in one month, can soon gain it back. The slow process of creating better lifelong habits will help us maintain the success we achieve.

There is no shame in asking for help to reach your goals. We can support each other and grow together. Sometimes sharing your goals with people you trust can lead to accountability and better progress. Remember to take one day at a time, being grateful every new day for the gift that it is.

Have a Happy New Year!

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Dr. Akanet has published a new book entitled '2020 Year of Plenty', where she reflects on her year as a British-Nigerian GP, mother-of-two, and charity trustee during the midst of a global pandemic. The book is available now on Amazon and at Afiniki.co.uk for half price before its official release on the 7th of January 2021. Proceeds from pre-order sales will be donated to charities including Mind, Myton, and Mercy Ships.