Why New Year resolutions don’t work

new-years-resolutions

With New Year’s day a few hours away, people are bound to start thinking about their new year resolutions in order to shape the year as per one’s own preferences and in order to make it more happy or successful. But in order to attain this happiness or success, something must be sacrificed. It is precisely these sacrifices that are elucidated while forming these new year resolutions. Promises such as ‘I will do more this’ or ‘less of that’ highlight the things that are to be preferred and those that are to be ignored. A research conducted by Richard Wiseman in 2007 suggested that 88% of all resolutions end in failures. But why are these promises generally never fulfilled?

There are various reasons for the same. Here’s a list of a few of them:

1 Love the thing you are sacrificing:

Often you choose to sacrifice the thing that is an integral part of your life, but is probably hindering your growth or may be detrimental to your health. Usually addictions fall under this category, which makes it difficult to quit such activities.

2 Dislike the thing which you resolve to pursue:

Generally the resolutions we make involve indulgence in activities which are labelled as good by the society. And even though we may or may not want to pursue it, we know that it will benefit us. For example, exercising for an hour everyday is beneficial but also tiring. And thus most of us would look for excuses to avoid exercising.

3 Setting the standards too high:

Sometimes the resolutions we set are beyond our capacity to fulfill them. For example, exercising for 4 hours a day is not possible for someone whose job is very demanding in terms of the hours spent at work. Such dedication will burn a person out and thus the resolution will have to be broken. Thus, it’s always best to set targets which can be achieved.

4 Problem persisting:

Setting targets is easy but following up on them is the tough part. Research suggests that you need to continue an activity for 21 consecutive days in order for it to become a habit. But we often become lax and lazy and  don’t follow up, making it difficult for us to honour the resolution.  If the resolution is health related, then one should come up with incentives to follow the routine, so as to help oneself persist with it.

5. Parental/peer pressure:

Along with personal conflict, the people around us also affect the resolution. Parents and peers are major influences on how well a resolution is implemented. There are times when one is dedicated to the task at hand, but our parents or peers aren’t in favour of it, and thus they impose restrictions on our activities. For example, a twelfth grader might decide to learn football, whereas his/her parents might have objections regarding the same and might expect him/her to study for the board exams instead.

6. Situations matter:

Situations change the way in which a person thinks or acts. There are times when a resolution is much required, however after a point of time the resolution is no more relevant. At such times we tend to forget the resolution because it is no more required. For example, one may decide to study for 10 hours a day. However one may then realize that instead of slogging it is better to simply spend more qualitative time free of such time bound goals. By making 10 hours of study compulsory, it becomes strenuous and one may not register all that one is studying due to a short attention span. In simple words, there are times when one can study for 10 hours a day, but there are also times when one is not in the right frame of mind to study for 10 hours a day. During such instances, it is best to avoid living up to the resolution since the situation has changed.

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