New Year’s Resolution
Resolutions often fall flat in practice throughout the year. (Illustration by Simon Wang, Case Western Reserve University)
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New Year’s Resolution

Stay away from these bad habits, however, and you might stand a chance.

New Year’s is one of the most exciting times of the year but in a lot of ways, it can be the most stressful time of the year too. On one hand, there is a celebration of the year’s successes and, for some, failures. On the other hand, everyone feels this abrupt urge to alter something about their lives in pursuit of a better year than the one before. This means of self-improvement during the new year is popularly known as a New Year’s resolution.

Typically, one will set a resolution to acquire better eating habits, social habits or a positive mindset. But there is usually a specific reason why these goals always tend to make an appearance from one new year to the next. The simple explanation is that many people give up due to an intense period of discouragement or slacking off.

According to the University of Scranton psychology department, there is a mere 8% of people who actually achieve their New Year’s resolution. Clinical psychologist Joseph Luciani believes external solutions such as dieting fads are bound to fail if not conducted properly.

He wrote, “The unfortunate truth is that change, all change, entails some degree of emotional friction, which in turn generates a ‘heated state’ we call stress. Whether you’re feeling anxious, depressed, frustrated, fatigued, weak and out of control, or simply bored, emotional friction (stress) becomes the high-octane fuel of failure. When it comes to handling the stress involved in change, many well-adjusted, happy, overweight, out-of-shape people share the fundamental problem of self-sabotage.”

It may seem rational to make a New Year’s resolution with good intentions; however, one needs more than good intentions to maintain one or more goals. Here are a few things to avoid when making a New Year’s resolution.

1. You Have Unrealistic Expectations

Starting off the new year fresh offers an immense amount of momentum for a clean slate, but many people tend to take the notion almost too literally. “New Year, New Me” should never be the mindset anyone has when it comes to making a New Year’s resolution. Not only is it detrimental to one’s self-confidence, but it can have an extreme impact on the way one follows through with their goals.

While the new year is certainly exciting, it is not a rebirth of the self. The chances are high that whatever problems were left in the previous year will be carried onto the following year. The only way to change or fix such issues is to target them with realistic expectations.

Set a New Year’s resolution that is measurable and achievable. In order to do this, one must be self-aware and willing to invest in making a change. It is typical to set a goal during the new year but setting a realistic goal means setting out to achieve something one knows they have the potential to complete. You should never shortchange yourself, but it is also important not to overestimate yourself either. Take baby steps and celebrate the small victories while maintaining a central goal. This will prevent yourself from getting discouraged and bailing on your resolution.

2. You Do Not Have a Support System

Another crucial aspect of a New Year’s resolution is having someone or a group of people to support you. There are a few reasons why a support system is helpful in this process, but one of the main reasons is to encourage much-needed motivation. Whether one is halfway through their goal or just starting out, it can become increasingly difficult to remember what prompted the need for change in the first place. Family and friends will be there to reassure you that you can reach the finish line.

There is also the route of a buddy system. It is perfectly fine if you don’t want to divulge to mom and dad how being slim-thick is on the list of to-dos for the year. In this case, telling and partnering up with a friend might be more reasonable. Even if the pair has different goals, the two will keep one another in check. Also, it could be 10 times more fun than going about the road less traveled alone.

 

3. You Do Not Have a Plan

Creating a plan is fundamental to any goal, yet it is one of the most popular reasons why New Year’s resolutions do not work out. There has to be a practical outline of how one plans on achieving one or more goals. Also, it is recommended to include a time frame. A plan serves as a reminder of the goal and its purpose.

Even more so, a plan is a way to measure one’s success as well as mistakes, which are inevitable. As a result, one may acquire a complete system that will help to maintain a New Year’s resolution. There are two parts to the system: rewards and adjustments. Hopefully, there will be tons of small milestones that one has reached and should celebrate. Under these circumstances, it is okay to reward yourself as an incentive to keep going. Then there may be times when something in the plan is not working, which is also okay. Take a step back to assess what exactly is not working and then make the correct adjustments to fine-tune the plan.

4. Your Goals Are Too Broad

Too often, it is common to state a goal without an exact expectation of what said goal means. An example of this would be establishing a New Year’s resolution to learn a new language. A better resolution would be specifying what is the desired language, how one is planning to study the new language and how long it will take to achieve this goal.

It’s normal to begin with a broad goal; however, being more specific about what one hopes to make a reality will aid in their progress.

5. You Are Not Actively Practicing Your New Habit

A New Year’s resolution is doomed to fail if there is little to no practice involved. The best way to achieve a goal is by making it a habit that is included in your daily routine. This allows your goal to be maintained for long periods of time and soon enough, it will not be a goal anymore. It will be a part of a lifestyle, especially for those hoping to read more books or head to the gym more often.

Begin with small steps as previously discussed and find a way to gradually incorporate the goal into your daily routine. An important thing to remember is to aim for consistency rather than perfection because the process of achieving one’s goal will be anything but perfect.

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