New school year, new start. A new start to me often feels like starting a new exercise book when I was at school, where I would promise to myself to keep this one neat, clean and tidy. Sadly it was something that I rarely managed. But I’m old and wiser (or at least I like to think so!).

So how do we start the way we mean to go? How do we move from intention to action? How do we put plans in place that can be achievable and help create good healthy habits? Read on to find 5 things you can do to help you start this school year the way you mean to go on.

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Have a vision
A new start is great, but how do you know what good looks like if you have not set it out. We can often know what we don’t want, however it can be harder to be clear about what we do want or what good or success might look like. This can sometimes be because we fear setting ourselves up to fail. If we don’t aim for something, then we never get anywhere. Half the battle is giving ourselves a clear aim.

Think about three things that you want to improve, change or do different, write them down. For example I want to be more organised or I want to get healthier.

Once you have this, think about what you want this to look like in three months time? This time span can make it achievable yet not so far away that you can tell yourself I will start tomorrow!
Using the two examples, your vision might sound like this:
Feeling on top of what is happening and having a system in place.
Having better eating habits and being able to run 10KM in under 1-hour.

A wise man once said ‘Without a vision the people perish’, know what it is you’re aiming for, let it given you focus and direction.

Make it achievable
You have a vision, you know what you want to happen, now comes the harder bit of making it achievable! Using the examples above, if your current system of being organised is waiting for people to chase you when you haven’t done something or putting everything into one big pile and calling that filing, a first step in making it achievable could be – writing a list, getting a diary / task manager app / get folders to actually file stuff! Whatever your vision is, break it down into smaller obtainable goals. If you want to run 10KM by new years eve, yet you haven’t even broken into a fast walk since 2014, then the first step maybe get some running shoes / do a brisk walk or jog round the block / download a couch to 10KM plan.

When we break down a vision or goal to smaller steps we make it less daunting, give ourselves a fighting chance of actually making it a reality it and build a sense of achievement. David Allen’s book ‘Getting things done’ has lots more useful ideas on making this a habit.

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Be accountable
Doing something on your own is good but without support we can easily lose the will to continue. Use the power of your social network (both physically and digitally). You have a vision, you’ve set out the small attainable goals, now share them with a trusted friend who loves you enough to not let you off the hook but to encourage you towards your goals.

Sharing them and being accountable applies a some positive pressure that can be the difference between winning or losing the battle against yourself. If we think we are letting someone down then we often push ourselves to do it, if it is just me then it doesn’t matter so much.

Share it with that friend, it may even inspire them to do the same.

Review, readjust, reward
You have your vision, you have set your small attainable goals, you have enlisted the support of a great friend, but perhaps it’s not all going to plan!!

Review your vision – if you’ve not run for ages and you’ve set the vision of doing a marathon in 4-months, very quickly you may find that it is just too big-a-challenge to achieve in the timeframe. Review your vision, perhaps the stretch will be a half marathon, with a full one for April.

Readjust the steps – you set out to run 6 days a week, after week one you’ve realised that it is not sustainable with life and everything else happening. Readjust it and make it attainable. Make sure you update your friend so that they know.

Reward yourself – when the going gets tough what will be the thing that keep you moving forward. It can be anything from a cinnamon whirl (a personal favourite!), cinema trip, lay in, whatever, just make sure you have a reward to look towards.

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Commit to it
Will power can last only for so long, beyond this we just need to commit even when it feels difficult, we don’t want to do it or it is simply raining!

Put it in your diary, print out your vision and have it on your wardrobe door, speak positively to yourself about it and remind yourself that you can do it. Do the small attainable goal even if you don’t feel like it – your actions will change your feelings!

Using the simple steps above can really help you to commit to your vision and help you start the way you mean to go on

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