We all enter each New Year with the hope that it is going to be better and we will finally get to do what we aimed for in the past. But also at the end of the year we are always disappointed that another year has passed without doing what we proposed so let’s talk about how to actually keep New Year’s resolutions and get out of the vicious circle of hope and disillusion.
A survey conducted by Nielsen last year showed that over 80 percent of Americans are making resolutions for the New Year. Of those 32 percent said they wanted to lose weight and 37 percent said they wanted to remain healthy and fit. As few as 16 percent said they weren’t going to make any resolution at all.
According to Dr. Joseph Ferrari, psychology professor at Chicago’s DePaul University, people tend to focus on the negatives, being obsessed with the things we didn’t get to do and what we have missed so the resolutions are like a second chance, a nice way to put our failures.
Clinical psychologist Pauline Wallin says that making New Year’s resolutions is a tradition, joking that misery loves company. According to her it is easier for people to underestimate the effort they will need to put in order to fulfil their resolutions. Wishing to lose weight is easier while you are still bloated from the holidays but it gets harder as the hunger strikes after a few days.
Ferrari claims that people’s biggest mistake is having unrealistic goals. Doing that can be really harmful for people with low self-esteem who tend to lose even more of it when they realize they were not able to keep their goals. It is a vicious cycle.
In conclusion what we need to do is having realistic goals. We can get to that by setting more specific goals as things like wanting to ‘get in shape’ are way too vague to be achieved and to produce satisfaction.
Besides that, Wallin claims that we need to focus on the positive things we have achieved. For example if we want to run five miles and feel exhausted and ready to give up after only one mile what we have to do is focus on the smaller and on what we have achieved instead of what we haven’t. Thinking that we still have four miles to go might make us lose motivation but thinking that we made if one mile might keep us motivated.
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