New Year’s resolutions have evolved into a cliché and to many a joke. You know you should take it seriously but, every time this time of year comes you can’t help but laugh and play along.
Some key reasons why resolutions do not work:
New Year’s Resolutions
- Unrealistic resolutions or goals
- All or nothing mentality
- Doing it for the wrong reasons
So why all the fuss, when so many believe these resolutions do more harm than good?
The statistics are bleak: only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions stick to them, and those who don’t usually abandon them after just one week. Unrealistic resolutions are fated to fail. And it is unrealistic to think that you can immediately overcome a habit you have spent years establishing. But is this necessarily harmful? There’s a good chance that it is. If your New Year’s resolution is to eat less, but you have no plan in place — or even if you do have a plan and you fail — you will do damage to your sense of self-worth. If you already have a complicated relationship with food, your likely coping mechanism for failure is eating more food. Thus the New Year’s resolution to eat less can actually result in your doing more. More exercising, or even more eating.
The practice of making resolutions itself dates back to ancient Babylon, who made promises to their gods for the New Year, often having to do with concrete, easily achievable tasks like vowing to return borrowed farm equipment. Now promises are made to ourselves and are primarily psychological in nature. With the threat of godly repercussion removed and more complex problems to solve, the odds of success are significantly reduced.
When you tie your behavioral change to a specific date, you rob yourself of an opportunity to fail and recover, to “fail better.” If you believe that you can only change on the New Year — the inherent message of New Year’s resolutions — you will have to wait a whole year before you get another shot.
The biggest message is that every day gives you a new opportunity to be better, healthier, and improve yourself. One lapse or failure does not ruin the intent or stop you from trying again tomorrow. Make realistic goals for yourself, have support, be persistent, and don’t let one day define you or who you want to be.