Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

By: Margot Leckron

New Year’s Resolutions have a habit of failing. The initial motivation to exercise everyday or be nicer to those around you fades after a month or two. Soon enough everyone is back to their old routine and new year’s resolutions are just a dream once again. According to a study by the University of Scranton published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45% of Americans tend to make New Year’s Resolutions. Out of the people that make resolutions only 8% are successful in achieving their goal.

But why does this happen? Why do the hopes for the new year vanish as quickly as they came?

One reason is that humans easily get bored by new activities.  According to Dr. Daniel Glaser, director of Science Gallery at King’s College London, researchers proved this in an experiment. Scientists showed a red card to infants and the babies got excited. Scientists repeated this process with another red card and the babies were no longer excited. When the scientists held up a green card the babies once again got excited.

New Year’s Resolutions are the cards and we are the babies. At the start the goal is exciting and you have motivation to complete it. As time passes the shine of the goal dulls along with our drive to complete this.

Resolutions often involve not doing something, such as eating unhealthy food or insulting someone, which takes a toll on our self control.  Roy Baumeister at Florida State University proposed the ego-depletion account. This theory considers self-control to be something that can be exhausted by the use. Every temptation you resist increases the likelihood that you’ll give in to the next temptation, even if the temptations are unrelated. Assuming this theory, changing habits drastically, as resolutions typically call for, is a very difficult task prone to failure.

But despite failure, people continue to make resolutions. So here are tips to help you stick to your resolution.

The best way to actually achieve a resolution is to do the following things: create a clear and realistic goal, share your goal, create a plan, and give up. Making resolutions that are vague are more difficult to achieve because you don’t know exactly what you want to achieve. Unrealistic goals are very likely to fail, which only serves to weaken your resolve and confidence. Sharing your goal with other people, or even just writing it down, creates accountability and helps to solidify the goal in your mind. Creating a plan for how to achieve the goal breaks the goal down into smaller parts, making it seem more achievable. And of course, giving up hurts your chances of achieving your goal. Even though there are definitely going to be obstacles, not stopping because of them is the best way to achieve your resolution.

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