Why do we make New Years Resolutions when so many people are not able to achieve them? Richard Wiseman, a psychologist and author who conducts mass participation experiments, discovered that 52 percent of people making New Year’s resolutions were confident they’d stick it out -yet only about 12 percent actually followed-through to fruition.
People wait all year for that one special time of the year where we are all prompted by friends, family and co-workers to quantify what we wish we would do or achieve. Making a New Year’s Resolution is one way to start thinking about what we are dissatisfied with in our lives, and to maybe even make us feel like we are magically erasing our procrastination: we made a resolution, and so now we have wiped the slate clean, even though we avoided this desired change all last year.
Every 365 days the calendar turns another page and we set goals that somehow we are “magically” going to muster the motivation to pursue. Imagine that, by some mystical alignment of the stars in the heavens we will now have the motivation to do what we have not done the previous year (or maybe even for many years). All this with just the flip of a page?
New Years Resolutions can provide hope for an improved quality of life, which is a wonderful thing, but it can also set us up to feel like a “failure.” What should we do? What if we focus on what we already have, or are currently doing in our lives that makes us feel good about ourselves? Thinking about what we are doing currently, that if we continue to do will make us feel good, can actually jumpstart our confidence that we can try something new and help us to be successful. The reason for this is: it draws from the strength that we already have – the very strength that has helped us to be successful.
I like to think of this strategy as a “Reverse New Years Resolution.”
Reflect on the previous year and think about what has made you most proud. When did you begin this practice or way of thinking? How did you do it? Be your own researcher: think about or discover what is your own particular way of changing? Honor the way you change: if it is slow, fast or stepwise, give yourself permission to change in the way that “works for you.”
Give yourself credit for your ability to begin andsustain what you are already doing. Continue practicing what you are already doing and give yourself credit and feel gratitude for your ability to do this for yourself.
Try something new in a “gentle way.” If at first you don’t succeed, don’t give up – just try again in a different way. This might mean with the help of a family member, a friend or a colleague. It might mean changing the pace or frequency of your actions. And remember to always allow yourself to change your mind, as sometimes we think we want something we don’t really want, or are not ready to have.