A New Year, A Better Me
There is nothing more human than wanting to set and achieve your goals. But with a new year already here and most of the world still stuck in a pandemic, of the 50% of Americans who do make a resolution, only 10% of them will stick with it for the whole year.
Why is it that so many people make resolutions but break them?
Well, that comes down to several psychological based reasons.
The first is the difficulty in breaking old habits. Habits, regardless of how old or positive they are, are ingrained into our subconscious and reinforced by multiple external elements that help us stick to a routine without having to actively think about it. To break an old habit will require active and constant work that can be tedious for some and more difficult for others, depending on the person and the habit.
The next is the overemphasis on the outcome rather than the reason. Say someone wants to lose a certain amount of weight by a certain time. Weight loss is one of the trickiest things since it does not occur linearly, by rather in a more spiral formation with some weight loss followed by some weight gain, but the gain is usually to a lesser extent. Focusing solely on a fluctuating process can be exhausting and, in many cases, disheartening. Rather than singularly focusing on the resolution or goal, focusing on the reason behind this choice or change can be more beneficial.
How do I beat these psychological blocks in order to keep my resolution?
You can keep your changes small so that you are able to change one behavior at a time, rather than going “cold turkey” to meet your resolution immediately. By taking things one step at a time and working your way to the bigger goal, you can make these changes seem more like a reward, instead of a punishment, and this can help you stick with the resolutions. You can talk about your goals, sharing them with family and friends. When we have people, who are in our corner and helping to keep us accountable, we are more likely to stick with our goals as we do not feel so alone as we work towards them.
One of the best tips is to not beat yourself up if you make a misstep, since we are human, and humans are rarely perfect. Everyone will have ups and downs when it comes to working toward their goals. If you get back up and continue working even after you make a mistake, everything will be ok.
New year’s resolutions are supposed to challenge us, to help us become better people. By understanding where our difficulties may lie and adopting some tips to help us stick with our goals, we can make 2021 a year filled with positive change and self-improvement.
Kathleen Williams serves at the Sun River Health Poughkeepsie Partnership as part of the Outreach program in Poughkeepsie, NY.
American Psychological Association. (2010, April 22). Making Your New Year’s Resolution Stick. http://www.apa.org/topics/new-year-resolutions
Herrick, Charles. “Why We Make (and Break) New Year's Resolutions, and 4 Tips to Help You Achieve Your Goals.” Why We Make (and Break) New Year's Resolutions, and 4 Tips to Help You Achieve Your Goals | Norwalk, 7 Dec. 2020, https://www.westernconnecticuthealthnetwork.org/newsroom/article-listing/new-years-resolutions?fbclid=IwAR3pM5tJUVZz50RZSuoDAOPYmyNKtTCzipRYykihHfSIgM0KYDwlyJzXI6o