Here’s some last-day-of-the-year consolation for those of us who’ve been meaning to get to our 2018 New Year’s Resolution these past 364 days:
It doesn’t matter.
Around 80 percent of our individual resolutions, whether genuine, just well-meaning, or completely phony, are made right around New Years Eve or Day and they are then abandoned by early February at the latest, polls find. So, why bother, right?
The goal we resolve for is usually a good one, unless, say, you’re a bank robber resolving to don better disguises this year.
So, why are New Years resolutions so easy to make and so hard to keep?
The problem, according to psychological research, is that most of us focus only on the results of the resolution. Yes, we’d like to lose weight. Yes, we’d like to eat healthier. Yes, we’d like to work out regularly.
But we skip concentrating on the most important part: The process of that change. If we don’t consciously change the behavior that leads to the bad result, we’ll never achieve the good result.
So, instead of focusing on losing weight, for instance, resolve to wake earlier, eat a lighter breakfast and work out. The beneficial results will follow.
There, see? It’s that simple.
No, seriously, keeping resolutions involves a substantial dose of self-honesty. Numerous research studies have shown that despite all the earnest blather we may spout about wanting to change, fundamentally changing a personality is really very rare.
Have you noticed when you encounter old friends after a long absence, they may look pretty different. But their personality hasn’t actually changed. Pssst. And they notice the same thing about you.
As Dr. Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic has noted:
For all the hype about grit and growth mindset as catalysts of change, there is little scientific evidence to show that we can actually boost people’s grit or growth mindset beyond their personal default level.
One other thing, despite our words, for most of us change is at least subconsciously threatening. The more familiar, the more comfortable.
That explains why, for instance, moving your family or just yourself is so uncomfortable. Nothing is where it should be for some time, until over time the new residence, the new neighborhood, the new travel and shopping routines become the new default normal.
That’s why I’ve decided to honestly write down my resolution for 2019 to stop procrastinating over so many of my daily chores. Tonight for sure.
Or maybe tomorrow. After the Rose Bowl. If I’m not too tired. Or too busy preparing for the next day’s work. We’ve got — what? — 365 whole days before we have to do this again.