New Year’s Resolutions
The Psychology Behind New Year’s Resolutions
By Dr. Maria Cuddy-Casey, Associate Professor, Immaculata University
More and more it seems that people publicly decline making a New Year’s resolution. Many reasons attribute to this, from “I never keep them” to “I can’t change”. This defeatist mindset creates what is known as a “self-fulfilling prophecy” – in other words, if one believes something enough, it will become true. With this being said, the belief one has about making a resolution may be more crucial than the resolution itself! Here are some tips to making your resolutions successful:
- Do not wait. If the change you crave is important enough to you, there is no time like the present. Often we wait for just the right moment to seize a new beginning, often this moment is unrealistic and possibly even a form of procrastination.
- Consider your desire to succeed. Are you making a resolution that is your own or one that you are taking on from other’s expectations, e.g. society’s expectation on weight, appearance, etc.
- Take small steps toward the overall goal. The resolution should be to get you started in the right direction and to earn success. These successes will motivate you and will make the overall goal obtainable and realistic.
- Plan for setbacks: as humans, we are creatures of habit. Less than perfect success should not be a deterrent to reaching your goal or an excuse to quit. Plan for contingencies and prevent situations that may hinder your success, e.g. don’t go into the bakery when you are cutting back on sweets.
- Consider how success in reaching your resolution will inversely effect you or your loved ones. Often success “off-balances” the status quo – rocking the foundation you and others may have become accustomed too. This disruption, even for a good reason, can create a dynamic that causes sabotage.
- Reward yourself with positive praise for small successes. This will help motivate you.
- Remember lasting change takes time. Be patient and rejoice in successes.
- Tell friends and significant others about your resolution. Public acknowledgement will help you stay true to your goal. Tell them specific things they can do to help you reach your goal.
- Focus on one resolution at a time.
- Learn from previous mistakes.
- Find a mentor, someone you has achieved the goal, and allow his or her success to motivate you. Find a partner or coach, e.g. exercise buddy to motivate one another.
- Believe that it will happen! Think positive and give yourself a mantra, e.g. “any step in the right direction is progress”.
Here’s to a New Year filled with constant goals and development!