The psychology behind New Years resolutions

Why we keep coming back to the the promises we rarely keep

Setting New Years goals
If you’re like me, you probably find yourself making the same New Year’s resolutions every year after failing to keep the ones you made previously.
 
So why do we do them even though we know they won’t likely hold up? 
 
How can we make it easier to keep them? 
 
According to a study published by the University of Scranton, about half of all American adults make New Year’s resolutions and only about 10 per cent actually keep up with them for longer than a few months. 
 
Most of us find a certain joy in “turning over a new leaf,” or starting fresh for the new year, so it makes sense that resolutions are all the rage come January. We make these dramatic goals to start the process of change, hoping the new year will put us back on track to improve our lives and meet our goals. 
 
In terms of likelihood that a resolution will stick, it’s much more likely if there’s a factor of enjoyment involved. If the change has a gratifying or rewarding element, it’s much more realistic to assume people will follow through. On the other hand, if the process of achieving the goal is demanding and strenuous, it makes sense that a person’s will to 
follow through will falter.
 
Another common reason why we aren’t successful with our resolutions is they tend to be unrealistic. According to the same study by the University, False Hope Syndrome is characterized by someone holding unrealistic expectations of the ease and consequences of changing their behavior. Although not everyone is a victim of this, it’s definitely something to keep in mind when planning our New Year’s resolutions and managing our expectations. 
 
There are some people who are able to change their behaviours easily when it comes to New Year’s resolutions but other people find it difficult to make such a drastic change so quickly. 
 
How can we use this knowledge to our advantage and be successful with our resolutions for 2018? 
 
The first thing to do is be realistic. Beyond falling prey to False Hope Syndrome, setting unrealistic goals may leave you frustrated with a lack of progress and disappointed in yourself. It might feel productive to declare you’re cutting out junk food for the year, but when the next movie night comes around and you smell that delicious popcorn, it might be difficult to resist indulging. 
 
Another tip to help keep you on track is telling a friend about your resolutions, or surrounding yourself with people that have the same goal. If you have someone to check in on how your resolution is going, it might motivate you to work harder so you can show them your success. Also, if you’re motivating each other or working together, you might find more immediate enjoyment from the company of a friend, helping you persist in your resolution. 
 
Finally, and probably the most important aspect of resolutions, is accepting lapses and minor failures. We’re all human, and we should accept the fact that we’re not perfect, no matter how hard we want to be successful in our goals. 
 
A new year means a new opportunity to try to achieve our goals, we simply have to make sure we go about it in the most effective, realistic way.
 

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