Resolution (noun) – a firm decision to do or not to do something.
January is here – also known as the month of resolutions – and at the strike of midnight on New Years Eve, we often decide to magically transform our lives in the upcoming year. Social media’s trending with “New Year, New Me” promises, gym membership sales increase and we make attempts to visit only the healthy isles of the grocery store. 2018 will be the year it is all going to come together we tell ourselves! It will be the year we read more, travel more, love more…this and that and the other more!
In fact according to a recent study in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, most resolutions fall into three simple categories:
– 55.2% of resolutions are health related.
(Exercise: 31.3%. Eat healthy: 10.4%. Have healthier habits: 13.5%)
– 34.4% are work related.
(Save: 20.8%. Get out of debt: 12.5%. Get organized: 1.1%.)
– 5.2% are social goals.
(Spend time with family: 2.1%. Enjoy life: 3.1%)
On another hand, January is also the month where 80% of us will fail those very hopes. According to University of Scranton, only 8% will actually achieve their resolutions.
Every year we realize the same disappointments and every year we set new resolutions. At the end of December and the beginning of January, we return to the same old cycle. Meanwhile at this point in the month, you’ll notice the chatter slows.
Truthfully, I’ve never understood what it is about resolutions that people find appealing. If you’d like to change something, no better day than today. If you’d like to start something, do so right away. Why wait? In life, there are very few moments when the timing is perfect. So why not seize the moment, why not see every day as a clean slate rather than wait around for another year to come and go.
So why do we fail at them?
According to Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University, we make resolutions as a way of motivating ourselves while unwilling to change our habits, especially the bad ones.
Psychology professor Peter Herman identified resolutions as the “false hope syndrome”. Meaning, the resolutions we make are significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with our internal view of ourselves.
While the New Year symbolically represents a fresh start, the truth is that people are simply not ready for it. As a result, New Years resolutions are considered a form of “cultural procrastination.”
So why do we set ourselves up for failure that really only results in self doubt? Internally, we think that the importance that goal has will determine our success rate at achieving it. The opposite is true. A study by Kaitlin Woolley from Cornell University and Ayelet Fishbach from the University of Chicago has shown that only one factor matters – ENJOYMENT! This means that instant gratification is fundamentally more important to us than sticking to a goal simply because it is important.
While we may not be able to change our nature, we can learn to adapt to it. To me, self disciple is key in achieving goals, but that doesn’t come without rewards. People fail because they opt to change everything drastically as opposed to baby steps. We treat resolutions a bit how we treat diets. What’s really imporant is focusing on smaller tasks that lead to small victories and then in turn, add up to larger goals. Large resolutions deter us from achieving goals simply because they feel unattainable. Instead of feeling joy and pride over smaller tasks, we feel disappointed with our progress.
Dr. Marcelo Campos of Harvard Medical School suggests writing down goals makes us feel more committed and accountable. This approach has personally worked best for me. Running an agency and working with number a of people takes a lot of planning in order for everything to run smoothly. We set weekly and monthly goals meanwhile, to-do lists work great on daily basis. The satisfaction of completing tasks off the list is the best feeling!
So really, who cares about those year long resolutions. The key is to focus on today and tomorrow. Don’t set yourself up for year long failure, but rather focus on making the best of the current day. Keeping in mind that not every day is meant to be a great one!
*Images from my shoot for Veuve Clicquot Canada Holiday 2018 Campaign.