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The bite-sized way of getting what you want

What is it that will make you happy -- a new job, love, to lose weight, or to spend more time with family and friends? Yet, have you found yourself losing resolve to change your life for the better only a few weeks into the year?

Ellen Shilling is a Blackrock-based life coach and she says: "It's time to take charge of your life -- enough of just 'letting life happen' to you.

"I know setting simple goals got me to a position I'm very grateful for. If this is the time of year when most of us try to change our lives, approximately 60pc of us will fail within one month.

"It's because most resolutions are too big and overwhelming. They are often set in the negative, for example, 'I don't want to be in the same relationship by this time next year', but the subconscious mind only processes positives, so it interprets this as 'I want to be in the same relationship this time next year.'"

She goes on: "We need to hold ourselves accountable for setting our own goals. There's no point in setting goals that we think we should have, because then we're chasing something which isn't really what we want -- it's why we become half-hearted."

Know what you want and when

"What do you want? Sit down with a notebook and look at the goals you'd like to achieve this year. Look at the following areas:

  • Family/friends

  • Health

  • Wealth

  • Romance

  • Career

  • Personal growth (how you feel about yourself)

  • Fun and recreation (hobbies, sports, comedy, events)

  • Physical environment (where you live and work).

"A lot of clients have all their eggs in one basket, they concentrate solely on one area while forsaking other areas of their life.

"For more balance, happiness and motivation we need to tend to the eight areas listed above," Ellen says.

Divide goals into simple steps

Ellen says: "One of the reasons why setting goals at this time of the year can fail is because they are too big. Instead of a sweeping 'I want to lose weight', think about how much weight in pounds or inches, how you are going to lose it and when you're going to lose it, for example.

"So take a goal and divide it into manageable steps. It's now, 'I want to lose seven pounds in four months. I'll do this by taking the stairs at work, walking three times per week, drinking more water and avoiding sugar on Tuesday and Thursdays.' Now see how achievable it is!

"Take each goal you've written in the areas listed and break it down into steps. Give each step a realistic time frame and note them in your diary. When a goal is set out like this the brain can see the logical sequence of events that need to happen in order to achieve it," Ellen says.

Visualise your goals as if they've already happened

"Keep the end result and the long-term benefit of any goal in your head, as it helps take the pain out of the steps involved. Again, and because it's a common goal at this time of year, we'll consider the goal of losing weight: keep a picture in your mind of a you that's slimmer, trimmer and healthier. Do this and I promise you it will be a lot easier to resist that cream cake or chocolate doughnut," says Ellen.

Celebrate your milestones and hold yourself accountable

She says: "At each stage along the way to reaching a goal, stop and celebrate. Each time you complete a step give yourself a pat on the back, buy yourself flowers, or tell a friend/partner about your accomplishments.

"All too often we chastise ourselves for what we haven't done. Isn't it time to congratulate yourself for what you have done? This will give you more motivation and will allow you to enjoy the road to accomplishing any goal. Tell other people who will encourage and support you."

Take action regularly

Ellen says: "Every time you feel unmotivated or apathetic, take action, however small, to get one step closer to that goal. Because unless you take action, the goal will remain a goal and not a reality. Regularly remind yourself of why you have these goals, and keep the bigger picture in mind. Check your goals regularly to see how you're progressing.

Have faith and persist

She says: "There will be days when you're not so motivated or when you succumb to temptation. How you react to days like this is vital. Rather than believing that it's the end and you might as well give up and totally pig out, choose to reassure yourself that you're only human and humans make mistakes. Start again the next day.

"Make your goals whatever you want, write out the steps needed to achieve those goals, visualise each step as if it has already happened, celebrate your milestones. Take action towards making your dreams a reality . . . and believe."

For more information, visit Ellen's website at www.ellenshilling.com