Our failed New Year’s resolutions

Why is it so hard to keep them?

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It’s the new year and many of you will want to turn the page, clean the slate, start over. January 1st is the day to do that. Whichever method you’ll find more fitting, whether it’s decluttering, creating a vision board, deep cleaning your room or grabbing a pen and a piece of paper to write on, that’s what New Year’s resolutions are for.

But they are really hard to stick with, why? If your intentions of changing are pure and genuine, why do we always sabotage ourselves and never stick to any of those?

I mean, how many times have you actually said: This year I’m going to the gym at least 3 times a week, I’m eating healthier and want to lose those 3 extra pounds for the summer!

By the way, a little digression on my part. Losing weight shouldn’t be your goal, feeling good in your own skin through exercise, that’s the goal. Always word your resolutions in a positive way, as a human you’re not lacking anything, you don’t need to change, your goal is and should only be to better yourself.

Sorry for that - let’s go back to that piece of paper that you carefully picked in your notebook, which you thoughtfully bought to start the year right on which you will write all your intentions for the upcoming year, only and solely with that sparkling pen you found deep searching at the Farmer’s Market.

According to one statistic, 80% of us will fail by the second week of February. A valiant effort. 

A study from 2016 published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, a scientific journal, investigated New Year’s resolutions, and found that 55% of resolutions were health related, as mentioned before the majority of us want to exercise more, or eat healthier. About 20% were to do with much greater issues, like getting out of debt.

Those are tricky things to get out from, especially in a few months, after the holidays.

Is it possible that we’ve turned our New Year's resolutions into more of a desire, a wish instead of concrete and achievable plans?

Which is counterproductive if you think about it. A study, led by Kaitlin Woolley from Cornell University and Ayelet Fishbach from the University of Chicago, found that participants believe that both enjoyment and importance are significant factors in whether they stick to their resolutions. In other words, if we’re getting immediate rewards from new habits, we’re more likely to stick to them.

So why do we keep failing? 

According to the author Seppo Iso-Ahola the problem lies with the internal battle between what you want to do, and what you should do. If you can stop yourself overthinking how awful it will be to have a salad for dinner, or to go on a run after work, you might just have a better chance of going through with it.

I am going to let you in on a secret, there is a word that’s holding you back, that generates all your problems. It’s a tiny word that we use nonchalantly way too often: should. Should is an absence of decision and by using it you’re not planning a reality for yourself, you’re planning a possibility. You are taking yourself out of the responsibility of making true decisions which sets you to an easier path to failure. 

Want a piece of advice from this writer, that made procrastination and laziness her two most googled searched words in 2021? Focus, do the work, don’t wish on anything, this year make it happen, and if you don’t.. Well, there’s alway next year, right?

By Miriam Gagino

Digital - category
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