About 50 per cent of the population makes new year’s resolutions, but how many of us actually keep them? As it turns out, the act of making a resolution might be your first step towards failure. Here’s why.
Photo by Mark Kobayashi-Hillary
Ray Williams, writing for Psychology Today, points out that setting a resolution is a form of “cultural procrastination” because people fail to set realistic goals and aren’t ready to change their habits. This makes a lot of sense when you think about the most common resolutions: reduce debt, lose weight, stop smoking and so on. All of these goals are fairly broad, and few of us take a step beyond defining what we have resolved to do.
Chances are if you want to quit smoking, you’ve wanted to quit smoking before the new year. An excuse — in the form of January 1st — isn’t going to help you do it. What it will do is give you an entire year to plan to quit smoking with no real set course of action. This makes it very easy to procrastinate. Before the new year you’d simply wanted to quit smoking soon. Now you want to do it this year. The only thing that’s actually changed in this scenario is the time frame. While “soon” isn’t specific, chances are an entire year is a lot farther off than “soon”.
None of this even accounts for how easily you’ll forget your resolution if you allow yourself such a lengthy amount of time to solve a fairly simple problem. Instead of making resolutions this year, start making an actionable plan to solve your problems one by one, as they come up. Don’t be overly ambitious or you’ll run out of energy, but make a concentrated effort to solve problems for the sake of solving your problems and not because the date has changed.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail | Psychology Today