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New Year, New you: How to keep those difficult New Year’s resolutions

A symbolic time for many, the New Year gives us a chance to reflect on the past year and what we wish for the year ahead. After overindulging during the festive period and waking a little worse for wear on New Year’s Day, you may feel the need to detox and set yourself new goals. This time creates the perfect opportunity for many to reinvent themselves through New Year’s resolutions. Thinking of goals to set is the easiest part, however it’s keeping them that proves difficult for most.

New Year’s resolutions start off great but the lasting effect is likely to fail, demonstrated in a study by psychologist Richard Wiseman. Of 700 participants who were asked about the strategies they developed to keep their New Year’s resolutions, 78% failed to keep these resolutions; it was found that these participants focussed more on the thought of failing as opposed to achieving their goal. Does anyone ever successfully keep New Year’s resolutions? Why do we bother?

More positively, the study also found that those who did successfully keep their resolutions broke them down into smaller steps and goals, rewarding themselves along the journey. They also spoke about their resolutions to friends to gain support and many kept diaries to track their progress.

For a New Year’s resolution to work, we have to try to make a behavioural change and to do this we need to change our thinking to create new neural pathways to change habits. Therefore making your goal a habit is crucial to succeeding in gaining your end result. Resolutions require willpower and the area in the brain that controls that is in the prefrontal cortex (right behind your forehead). It has many jobs such as looking after your short-term memory and keeping you focussed to name a few. This area is like a muscle and a resolution is like a huge weight it has to lift, without any prior training. Turning your resolutions into new habits equates to creating new workouts for the brain; the more weights we lift, the stronger the muscles get.

So, if you are going to make a New Year’s resolution for 2015, here are some tips to making them stick:

1.       Make one resolution and focus on it; set realistic and specific goals. Focus your thinking on new behaviours and thought patterns.

2.     Set this goal early in the year so that it will have a long-term impact rather than short-term easy wins. Spur of the moment decisions tend to be less motivated by intent and we are therefore less likely to stick with them.

3.     Be positive in your language and approach.

4.     Make a plan as to how you are going to achieve your goal, with small milestones along the way. Reward yourself when you reach each goalpost.

5.     Discuss your goal with others; they may be able to help keep you on track or even join you in their own goals.

If you want to discuss your own career goals with someone, remember you can call on NABS’ career coaches. The career coaching service is for all levels, offering support and help to find new strategies in achieving your goals and resolutions. To arrange a session with a coach, call 020 7290 7070.

By Uzma Afridi, careers coach at NABS

‘Go back to basics’ – Jo Travers, dietician

In the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, NABS is taking a look back at some of the best bits from this year’s various programmes, such as its Tuesday Club Talks and Resilience Programme, and  choosing the best piece of advice from each speaker and challenging you to take it on in the New Year.

As part of NABS’ role to increase the wellbeing of the advertising industry, we invited dietician Jo Travers to offer advice on how to ensure we have the energy to perform to our best. Many of us seem to forget how important food’s role is in keeping us going on a daily basis. We’ve all had those days where we simply miss lunch and require a ‘quick fix’, but what Travers advised was to simply ensure you had a set time to eat and ‘go back to basics’.

No foods are forbidden according to Travers, but what is important is to include as many varied food groups into your daily meal plan as possible: carbohydrates, protein, fat, fruit, vegetables and calcium. It’s about getting a balanced diet.

Diet can often suffer when we are troubled and under stress; due to the increased level of cortisol the “stress hormone” which stimulates feelings of hunger. What we need to avoid are “comfort” foods as they not only leave us feeling sluggish and tired but actually increase our stress levels.

It’s a known fact that well-nourished bodies are better prepared to cope with stress. So this year, stock up on that Christmas dinner and make sure it’s balanced; no more plates full of turkey with no brussel sprouts in sight!

Click here for more advice from Jo Travers.

‘Pay attention to your thoughts’ – Graham Lee, mindfulness expert

In the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, NABS is taking a look back at some of the best bits from this year’s various programmes, such as its Tuesday Club Talks and Resilience Programme, and  choosing the best piece of advice from each speaker and challenging you to take it on in the New Year.

Within any line of work, it can be difficult to pay attention to ourselves when we have a heavy workload and other people’s expectations to consider.  As part of the NABS Mindfulness workshops, Graham Lee explained the importance of appreciating each moment and how it differs to self-awareness.

The power of mindfulness, Graham advised, is that in can help you learn to value those transient instances that can be all too often fleeting, by being fully aware of ourselves. To really notice our breath, sights, smells, sounds; the things that we’d ordinarily take for granted. To let go of our distractions, not by ignoring them, but by gently accepting them (or as one participant put it, ‘quelling all the mind chatter’).

“If we pay more attention to our thoughts, feelings and sensations, we can begin to appreciate every moment, every sunset”.

So what’s the difference between Mindfulness and plain old self-awareness? Lee explained that to be self-aware is to say: “I’m feeling stressed”, but to be Mindful is to say: “there is stress”. The subtle difference is the way we observe, accept and embrace even the negative.

During this festive period and into the New Year, try to take some time to truly understand your thoughts and feelings; a well-rested and aware mind will help you advance further in 2015.

Click here to read more of Graham Lee’s advice.

‘Welcome your thoughts and emotions’ – Dr Guy Meadows, sleep physiologist and founder of The Sleep School

In the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, NABS is taking a look back at some of the best bits from this year’s various programmes, such as its Tuesday Club Talks and Resilience Programme, and  choosing the best piece of advice from each speaker and challenging you to take it on in the New Year.

Sleep is an important part of our regular routine; we spend a third of our lives asleep and use the time to recover, rejuvenate and balance our hormones. However, many of us find it difficult to sleep due to daily pressures. Sound familiar? You’re a part of the 80% of the UK population who experiences some form of sleeplessness, or could potentially be one of the 30% who suffer from chronic sleep problems.

Sleep physiologist Dr. Guy Meadows took on the role of the Nabs Wellbeing expert, offering help with sleeplessness to  help people find ‘more energy and a richer and more meaningful life’ by promoting practical ways to get a better night’s sleep.

Dr Guy teaches us to welcome our thoughts and emotions. Be aware of them, but don’t let them overwhelm you, observe their presence objectively then learn to let go: “Fearful thoughts or strong sensations such as anxiety at night can make you more awake. Learning to change your relationship with them; by getting to know them and even welcoming them when they arrive will reduce arousal levels and lessen your sleep struggle.” Remember, if you think you won’t sleep well, the chances are you won’t sleep well.

Click here to read more of Dr. Guy Meadows’ advice

‘Be true to yourself’ – Karen Blackett, CEO at MediaCom

In the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, NABS is taking a look back at some of the best bits from this year’s various programmes, such as its Working Parents Programme , and  choosing the best piece of advice from each speaker and challenging you to take it on in the New Year.

In October this year, we hosted the NABS Working Parents Panel; a chance for those within the industry to have an insight into the various problems and solutions many working parents face. Offering anecdotal tales and words of advice were Karen Blackett, CEO at Media Com, Steve Hatch, MD at Facebook UK & Ireland, Vicky Janaway, account director at WCRS, Sam Phillips, chief new business and marketing officer at Omnicom media group and Emily Samways, business director at Karmarama.

During the panel, one particular comment from Karen Blackett resonated with us; ‘be true to yourself’. Throughout her career, Blackett has faced many challenges being a working parent, including being promoted to EMEA CEO of MediaCom during her maternity leave. Blackett explained that no matter what your role within the industry, you should always be honest and authentic; “Do bring your home life to work, don’t be ashamed to talk about your kids, and most importantly ask for help – build a support network of neighbours, friends and colleagues who can step in and help if needs be.”

During this time of year, and throughout your career, ensure that you raise any issues with those around you. As Blackett explains above, a support network is a valuable tool in ensuring you are happy both in and out of work, and you are at the centre of your own.

Click here for more advice from Karen Blackett and others from the Working Parents Panel.

‘Do something different’ – John Neal, performance coach and sports psychologist

‘Do something different’ – John Neal, performance coach and sports psychologist

In the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, NABS is taking a look back at some of the best bits from this year’s various programmes, such as its Resilience Programme, and  choosing the best piece of advice from each speaker and challenging you to take it on in the New Year.

The link between the sports and business worlds may not appear obvious at first glance, but think about how many sport metaphors are used throughout business chatter; “OK team, let’s kick-off with a ballpark figure to keep us on target!”. Earlier in the year, performance coach and sports psychologist John Neal offered his expert insight as part of NABS’ focus on wellbeing in the workplace.

During his talk, Neal introduced the concept of mental toughness to our audience of ad folk, explaining how mental strength is all about CTUP: Correct Thinking Under Pressure. An advocate of training the limbic system, the part of the brain in charge of how we perceive the world, Neal discussed how we can not only better control our adrenaline responses – fight, flight or freeze – but can create new pathways in the brain to help us cope better.

The pressures of work and home are often so great that we can barely think straight. In response to these regular stresses, we react in a manner that seems second nature. So how do we change these reactions? Through creating new pathways within our brain. Neal advised that this can be done by challenging yourself to do something different; something that excites you; something that is outside of your comfort zone. So our challenge to you this Christmas is to do something that challenges you.

Click here to read more advice from John Neal’s talk.

‘Test counterintuitive things’ – Rory Sutherland, vice-chairman of Ogilvy Group UK

In the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, NABS is taking a look back at some of the best bits from this year’s Tuesday Club Talk programme, choosing the best piece of advice from each speaker and challenging you to take it on in the New Year.

The Museum of London played host to NABS’ Tuesday Club Talk with Rory Sutherland, as we got to peak into how such a gloriously creative mind works. Amongst a brilliant lecture on the importance of the sub conscious when it comes to decision making, Rory’s best bit of advice to the audience was to test counterintuitive things.

Often we can be driven by our own fear of failure, and so we will go along with the norm in order to avoid responsibility for bad outcomes. However, for us to stand out and make a difference, Rory implored us to go against the grain and test counterintuitive things; options that are dismissed by those content with the norm.

It’s as simple as not following the crowd and it can lead to interesting results. So in the New Year, think about how can you do things differently, and how can this lead to you standing out.

Click here to read more advice from Rory Sutherland’s talk.

‘Work on the things you love’ – Steven Moffat, screenwriter and television producer

In the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, NABS is taking a look back at some of the best bits from this year’s Tuesday Club Talk programme, choosing the best piece of advice from each speaker and challenging you to take it on in the New Year.

What do you get when you mix Doctor Who, Sherlock and NABS? Despite sounding like a weird BBC special, this was the treat on offer to NABS Partner Card holders in March as Steven Moffat, the brain behind both series, held a live Q&A, hosted at the offices of BBH.

Amongst some top-secret questions and answers on the future of Doctor Who and Sherlock, Steven made it clear, that the reason he is so successful, and happy, is because he’s doing something he loves. Working on things you love unreasonably, he said, is a brilliant way to live, even if it isn’t a success, you’ll have had a good time in the process.

So for 2015 – what would you love to do or work on? Perhaps it’s something you can work towards next year at work, or maybe its something you can do in your spare time. Because if we work on something that we enjoy, or have a passion for, work becomes less stressful, more rewarding and most importantly fun.

Click here to read more advice from Steven Moffat’s talk.

‘Understand your inner dialogue’ – Jamil Qureshi, performance psychologist

In the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, NABS is taking a look back at some of the best bits from this year’s Tuesday Club Talk programme, choosing the best piece of advice from each speaker and challenging you to take it on in the New Year.

On the face of it, a performance psychologist-come-stand-up-comedian might not fit with the usual NABS Tuesday Club Talk speaker line-up. But in June we welcomed Jamil Qureshi, a performance coach extraordinaire who’s worked to get the best out of the likes of the England Cricket team and well known business leaders.

Jamil spoke in-depth to the audience about the power of your inner dialogue. Successful people are motivated. They think about how they will succeed, rather than thinking about how they will fail. To put this into context Jamil used the example of the late footballer Gary Speed. Before taking a penalty he’d only ask himself one thing. And that would be which way he would be running to celebrate having scored the goal he knew he would score – left or right corner flag.

How many of us would approach this situation and think that we were going to scuff it? The value positive thoughts can have on an individual are endless; a happier mind equals better work and ultimately a more successful organisation. By harbouring negative feelings we’re more likely to fail. So as we head into 2015 – think about how you can start changing the way you think for the better.

Click here to read more advice from Jamil Qureshi.

‘Take considered risks’ – Jon Mitchell, Ex-Spotify VP of ad sales North America and chief revenue officer of Znaptag

In the run-up to Christmas and the New Year, NABS is taking a look back at some of the best bits from this year’s Tuesday Club Talk programme, choosing the best piece of advice from each speaker and challenging you to take it on in the New Year.

Ex-Spotify VP of ad sales North America and chief revenue officer of Znaptag, Jon Mitchell took our audience through a talk on how to take a start-up from the bedroom to the boardroom in 2014, urging us all to take considered risks.

What connects some of the world’s biggest success stories – the likes of Richard Branson or Elon Musk – is that they’ve never been afraid to take risks. They dreamt big and they worked hard, and their risks paid off. However, this approach requires a determined vision and you shouldn’t take risks lightly. Work out the worst case scenario before you take that leap. Jon took a risk in leaving a good job at Classic FM to join Spotify, then largely unheard of in the UK, but he believed in the organisation’s vision and knew it could work.

A few years down the line and Jon was vice president of ad sales for Spotify in North America. It’s through taking these risks, albeit well thought out ones, that you can really prove yourself and improve your career.

Click here to read more advice from Jon Mitchell’s talk

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