OPINION BY OWEN SCARROW
I’m sorry to tell you, but you’re going to break your New Years resolutions.
According to U.S. News, within six weeks of New Year’s day, 80 percent of resolutions will be broken. There are a lot of reasons why this happens but it all boils down to the fact that as a population, we’re using an arbitrary date on a calendar to try to motivate ourselves to make major lifestyle changes, which simply aren’t sustainable.
Obviously trying to better yourself is always a good idea, and the mindset of using a new year as a new start to refresh yourself sounds good in theory, but using a calendar date to make these lifestyle changes isn’t obtainable.
For starters, 55 per cent of resolutions are health related. Whether that is eating healthier or exercising more, most resolutions revolve around bettering one’s health. With the new year coming in just after the Christmas season, these types of resolutions are difficult to maintain. People are tired and lazy from the time off over Christmas and aren’t able to gear up to workout consistently in a manner that will significantly better their health. Eating healthier is also a challenge when the majority of holiday eating revolves around baked goods and large Christmas dinners. The feeling of wanting to get out of that eating habit is one that’s pretty common, but flipping the switch so quickly isn’t one that’s obtainable.
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The main thing that keeps people dedicated to their resolutions is what psychologists call the “enjoyment factor”. Put in layman’s terms, when people see results they are more likely to stay on track with their goals. With the vast majority of resolutions being related to either becoming healthier (55 percent) or getting out of some kind of debt (20 percent), most resolutions don’t show any immediate benefits. When we don’t see those immediate benefits we are more likely to give up, and by the middle of February, 80 percent of us will have completely stopped working towards their resolutions.
According to Psychology Today, another reason we aren’t able to keep on track has nothing to do with our motivation, but the actual resolutions themselves. To make significant changes in areas such as health or finances, you should be focused on creating new habits that will override previous bad habits, rather than having a broad goal to work toward. When your resolutions are too broad such as “working out more” or “eating healthier” they’re hard to stick to because there is no single habit that you can change. Specific and obtainable goals such as “go for a run twice a week” or “have a healthy smoothie for breakfast each morning” allow you to work toward something that you can take day by day, and the feeling of achievement will allow you to continue that habit moving forward.
Realistically, we would all love to better ourselves and that’s not a bad thing. Hell, I’d love to be better in a lot of different areas as well. But this “new year, new me” attitude that has been adopted is one that people just can’t consistently adhere to.
Don’t use the flip of a calendar to start bettering yourself. Go and do it today, because by tomorrow it’ll be too late.