Why New Year’s resolutions are so hard to keep, and what to do instead

Why New Year’s resolutions are so hard to keep, and what to do instead

Why are we so obsessed with resolutions? As soon as each New Year comes around, we desperately scramble to find a significant something to do in the coming year – something positive to make us feel good, to make us feel as though we could achieve something.

In fact, the most common resolutions are these three things: losing weight, getting organised and saving money.
And I’d be lying if I said that these weren’t always at the top of my New Year agenda. But of course they would be. By the end of December I’m fat from overeating, poor from overspending and disorganised from being off from work for just under 2 weeks.
But I hate to break it to you, it has been scientifically proven that new year’s resolutions are impossible to keep. In fact, research from the University of Scranton suggests that a mere 8% of us stick to our New Year goals.

But WHY? 

The multiple studies that have looked into why resolutions are so tricky to keep found one common outcome – we set ourselves overly large, overly unrealistic goals.
And aiming for the top can be so psychologically daunting for many, that we end up failing, and falling, at the first hurdle.
Because when resolutions become too ambitious, we struggle to achieve them, failing at changing the habits we’ve been living by all 365 days previously.
According to Dr. Roberta Anding, a registered dietician and nutrition professor at Baylor College of Medicine, we should be approaching our resolutions as a ‘reset,’ instead committing to realistic, smaller goals throughout the year.
For example: 
  • Set tangible changes, rather than goals. Instead of your resolution being ‘lose weight,’ give yourself a time frame. Aim to try and cook a different, healthy dish each week, be brave and try a new exercise class, spend a weekend cleaning out your kitchen cupboards and removing all the ‘bad’ food.
  • Stick to one resolution. The more you give yourself, the more pressure you’re putting on yourself. One resolution = more energy channeling one end goal. For example, rather than your goal be ‘to lose 5 stone,’ aim for ‘be more healthy’ instead. This can encompass a range of changes throughout the year, physically and mentally.
  • Think properly about what you want your goal to be. Don’t follow the crowd, and don’t go with a goal just because. Think about it. Think about what you really want from the year, whether it be to have your favourite dress a little less snug, to be able to afford a new car, or even trying for a baby!
  • Don’t beat yourself up about it. New Year’s goals often mean changing a huge aspect of your normal behaviour, and it can be hard to teach an old dog new tricks. If you can’t revert from your old habits straight away, it’s OK. Failure is merely a temporary setback.
(The NHS has a fantastic article on keeping your resolutions which I urge you to read.)

SO, what is MY New Year’s resolution?

Like many, 2016 has been a tough year for me. And no, it’s not just because we’ve had so many legends die (read more on my struggles here).
But reflecting on the year, I think a lot of the issues I’m overcoming has stemmed from the insane amount of pressure I put on myself in my first full year of full-time employment.
So I’m going into 2017 with a positive attitude, and one very clear resolution.
To be kinder to myself. 
You can interpret that however you wish, but for me it means putting my mental health first, looking after myself physically (eating better, taking more time out to exercise etc.), and doing more of the things that make me happy.
Resolutions can be whatever they want, whether it be eating at a new restaurant every month, or finally putting a deposit down on a house. Just remember, don’t be too hard on yourself…


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