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You’ve all seen them – the January Joggers. Usually dressed in smart new running gear – lycra jogging pants, high viz tops, new trainers – they pound their way along the roads and footpaths of West Sussex, with Ipod headphones in their ears and a bottle of water near to hand. By the end of January, they’ve vanished. Only a few diehards like me are left, with our shabby running gear and worn trainers. But why do they disappear? Where do they go?

This might sound rather strange, but I like January. At every opportunity I’m out there, stomping along the footpaths and B roads of West Sussex and I have to say that January is one of my favourite months. It is full of soft gray light and wonderfully subtle shades of brown and green. It is a peaceful, quite month. Nothing happens in January. There are no national events or festivals (apart from Burns Night, but that is not much celebrated down here in the South East). It is a month to hide away in, a month in which to take stock.

And, of course, it is the month in which to make resolutions – to quit smoking, to eat less, to exercise more, to go jogging. Even if we don’t madly overindulge, Christmas often leaves us feeling a bit jaded. The New Year makes us think about new beginnings and new directions. But as the mornings get lighter, and the snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils appear, how many of our New Year’s Resolutions survive into Spring?

Usually not many. And I think that the reason for this is that people in general don’t really understand the nature of change. The January Joggers probably have a list of resolutions as long as your arm! What they, and others, fail to realize is that any change will have repercussions. Change doesn’t happen in isolation. On change will lead to others. So – if you try to change too much at any one time you may find the changes too difficult to maintain and control. And if you then have to dump one resolution the temptation then is to dump the whole lot and try again next year.

Even simple changes may have far-reaching consequences. Take smoking. The person who is thinking about giving up smoking will tend to regard this change as the denial of a source of pleasure, something which one must get used to, and will typically be quite unaware of the many other changes which smoking cessation brings in its wake.

A quick look on the Internet shows that the typical cost of a packet of 20 cigarettes is now around £6 – £7 a packet. The standard brands which I used to smoke way back in the old days – Embassy Regal, B & H, Silk Cut, Rothmans etc – all now cost around £7 a packet. So a 20 per day habit now costs about £50 per week. So, one change which will ensue if you give up smoking will be a saving of around £200 per month. That’s like getting a tax-free pay rise of £2,400 per year. If you’ve been feeling the pinch (and who hasn’t) that extra money might make life a good deal easier. It might help to pay off debts, or help to make life a little more affordable. This in turn might lead to less anxiety about money and less stress in general. In turn, this could ease any domestic difficulty arising from lack of money and make relationships calmer and happier.

Or it could simply be a nice bit of disposable income. What will you spend it on? Maybe that money might lead you towards some new hobby or activity. Maybe that in turn will bring you in contact with new people. Maybe those new people will become friends, lovers, customers…

Giving up smoking will probably change your relationship with alcohol. Quitting smoking will lower your resistance to alcohol. You may find that you don’t need or want as much. Reduced consumption in turn may lead to a better state of health, more energy, a clearer mind, a more positive outlook. This, in turn, can have a positive impact upon both your work and your leisure activities.

When you quit smoking your senses, especially smell and taste, start to function properly. This might lead you, quite naturally, towards beneficial changes of diet, especially if junk food suddenly doesn’t taste quite so nice!

Maybe I’m letting my imagination run away a bit here. But the point I’m making is that even a simple change like quitting smoking can have a positive impact upon virtually all aspects of your life. And this is why I tend to be wary of long lists of resolutions and far-reaching programmes of change. It is better to make one change at a time and really to appreciate the positive effects of that change before making any others. And change is ongoing, not just something we do in January. Make small changes – but keep on making them. Because small changes stack up into very big changes indeed.

And if any January Joggers are reading this, then my advice to you is as follows: don’t run too far or too often. Joggers want to see results, and this often leads them to attempt too much too quickly. Do a short run, but do it once a week, every week come rain or shine. Make it an automatic part of your routine, something you do as a matter of course, something you hardly even have to think about. Then, and only then, you can run a little further and / or add another weekly session. Do that, and before you know it you will have joined the ranks of us diehards, jogging through West Sussex all year long, come rain or shine…

Horsham Hypnotherapy: serving clients from Horsham, Crawley, Burgess Hill, Haywards Heath, Guildford, Redhill and all parts of West Sussex, East Sussex and Surrey. Contact us today.

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