The year is rapidly nearing its end,and as the new year approaches, many people are starting to think about New Year’s resolutions.
Maybe you want to go to the gym more, or cut back on coffee or alcohol. No matter what it is, or whether we have tried to follow through on the same resolution in years prior, we all seem to want to make a resolution to change for the better at the start of the year.
But no matter how much we tell ourselves this year will be different, many people won’t succeed in their goals. So why do we keep trying, and why do we all make such a fuss about making a resolution we probably won’t succeed in?
According to Frederick Grouzet, a psychology professor with the University of Victoria, the answer to that question is part societal and part human nature.
“It’s something that is so natural as a human being, whenever there is a temporal landmark, to think about how things can be done differently,” said Grouzet. “There are different reasons why we do it. It could be the need for a reset, not erase the past, but take the opportunity to start again, and there is also a cultural influence. At this time of year, everyone is talking about new year’s resolutions, it’s everywhere, which encourages people to make them.”
According to Grouzet, that social pressure to make a resolution can also reduce the chance someone will succeed in what they set out to do.
While there are many reasons why people don’t succeed in any goal they set for themselves, motivation is the most significant factor in predicting success. Having the right motivation to do something rather than the wrong one can make all the difference.
Grouzet said it is very important for people making resolutions to be motivated to make and succeed in it because they want to do it and they want to succeed. All too often, people make a resolution because other people encourage them to, or because they want to do something for someone else.
When you are doing it for someone else, or even because you feel society is pressuring you to do it, it makes it all the more challenging to overcome unexpected challenges like poor weather stopping you from going for a run as often as you would like, or an unexpected gym closure. If you do it for your own reasons, it becomes easier to overcome those challenges, and reach your goal.
If you do want to succeed in your resolutions, whether they are made for new year’s or at any other time, Grouzet said there are three main steps to keep in mind.
“The first step is to ensure we are doing things for the right reasons, for personal reasons. Before making a resolution, choose your reasons carefully, especially if it is something being suggested by friends or family. If you do it just to please them, it won’t work.
“The second step is to have a step-by-step plan to ensure we don’t start to hard. Start easy and build confidence in yourself that you can succeed. The third step is to anticipate obstacles and to have a backup plan. For example, if the gym is closed, have some exercises to do at home.”