Are New Year's Resolutions an Effective Way to Change Your Life?
With the end of the year on our doorstep, many of you probably think of what New Year's resolution to make. Making a resolution on the night in between the years is traditional for many - this is a time when people can start a new year with a clean slate, and change themselves or let go of a bad habit for good. This traditional promise must be coupled with a willpower strong enough to actually make a change - and it seems that many of us don't have it. Science says that the average person has better odds of hitting a jackpot at minimum deposit casinos Canada than to keep a New Year's resolution, however strong it may be.
So, do New Year's resolutions actually work or should we delay them for another time?
A surprisingly low percentage
According to University of Scranton Psychology Professor John C. Norcross, no more than 10% of New Year's resolutions are actually fulfilled. And this is a very low number, considering that about half of the North American population is resolutions each New Year. The most common resolutions refer to losing weight, giving up smoking, reduce debt, and take better care of finances in the new year. Carleton University in Canada sociology professor Timothy Pychyl called this habit a way of motivating oneself to actually bring positive change in one's life. But these almost inevitably fail.
Why do New Year's resolutions fail?
The majority of people making New Year's resolutions set goals that are simply unrealistic. Besides, they expect their lives to change fundamentally by changing a thing or two - and this almost never happens. And when people realize that giving up smoking, losing weight, and reducing debt didn't change their lives completely, they get discouraged and revert back to their old, routine behaviours.
How to make resolutions work?
This applies to any kind of resolution, not that the ones made on New Year's Eve. To change your behaviour - and ultimately, your life - you have to "rewire" your brain, change your neural pathways not by "not doing" something but rather to do something instead. This will create new neural pathways to replace the old ones and change the default way of thinking completely.
There is no magic trick that can make a resolution "stick". There are a number of things, though, that you can do to help you fulfill it. First of all, you need to focus on ONE resolution rather than many - baby steps, as some may say. Taking small steps is important - it is far easier to break down a major goal into smaller, easier to achieve steps than taking on the big one from the start and failing to live up to your own expectations. Plus, make sure to set specific goals rather than general ones. Losing weight is nice but not a specific goal - but losing 10 pounds in a month or two is.
And make sure to focus on the present, on what you can do today to achieve your goal instead of placing it in the distant future. Celebrate each success and don't let setbacks discourage you. This way, all your resolutions - not just the ones made on New Year's Eve - will be easier to fulfill.