New Year, New Me – Do Resolutions Ever Really Work?

With the New Year upon us – 2018 – how did it arrive so fast? Of course with the beginning of a new year comes a time of reflection and, as we tear into our selection box and flick through our ‘To watch’ list on Netflix, we ask ourselves what did we achieve this past year? It’s usually at this point you consider setting your New Year’s resolution, you might be really ambitious and set two, maybe even three. This year I’ll go to the gym three times a week, I’ll quit smoking and I’ll only eat chocolate and sweets on weekends. Of course whilst you’re mentally jotting down these life changing goals you’re choosing to ignore that you set these exact resolutions last year and can’t actually remember where you put your gym membership card.

The question is does anybody actually manage to keep these resolutions? And does suddenly deciding that these are the things you’re going to change about yourself based on one date change from the end of December into January actually make it any more likely to happen than say, if you set these goals mid-July?

If you’re one of those who struggle to keep their resolutions, don’t feel too guilty about it. In actual fact, according to a study by Psychology today, 35% of us who make New Year’s resolutions have broken them by the end of January and only 23% of us who make them see them through to the end of the year.

But why do we break them so easily?

One of the main reasons people tend to break their resolutions, is that they are setting too many. For example, if you set two resolutions that are going require quite a lot of habit changing such as quitting smoking and going to the gym, you might be setting yourself up for failure. Both of these will involve quite a lot of will power, and if you work full time or have a busy schedule, you might find yourself using the most popular excuse for slipping back into an old routine – ‘I just haven’t had the time’.

However, if you to aim to do only one of these things, you’re actually setting yourself a very achievable goal, and setting a goal at the beginning of the year, with a completely fresh start and a positive(ish) attitude ahead it can be a perfect time to force out old habits and to bring in the new. It is breaking the original habit in the first place which is the key to making changes and keeping your resolutions, and unfortunately because that takes time, many of us have either given up or forgotten entirely that we were trying to do it in the first place.

How can I keep my resolutions?

The best way to make a resolution and stick to it is to set yourself a resolution that is achievable and that you can genuinely envisage yourself completing. If you aren’t entirely committed to your decision, chances are by the end of the second week you’ll be mentally talking yourself out of it and setting the same resolution next year.

Of course it’s natural to go into something new in a whirlwind of enthusiasm and it’s not really about being committed in the beginning. The hardest part is to maintain the commitment to drag yourself out for a run in the cold and rainy January weather after a long day at work when the central heating is on inside and a new episode of your favorite show is about to start any minute.

It seems the New Year’s resolution is perhaps something we feel we should do in an attempt to make each year seem as though it will bring more than the last. Even the happiest of people can feel that with the start of a new year, a new calendar and a new diary that perhaps there should be something to mark the step from one year into the next, and the thought of looking back next Christmas and seeing that you stuck at something can be an extremely satisfying and proud feeling. So if you’re setting New Year’s resolutions this year, be kind to yourself, don’t set your sights too high and you could be in that 23% this time next year. And if you don’t make it past January 20th, well there’s always next year.

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