Here's Why New Resolutions Never Work

Why don't people stick to their resolutions?

It’s difficult to maintain consistency. Most human behaviour is fleeting and inconsistent. Expecting to maintain a certain behaviour indefinitely or even cross the span of a year could be demanding too much from oneself.

Resistance to change: Psychologically and Physically the human body seeks homeostatis (a tendency to maintain internal stability or equilibrium). Any type of change in lifestyle leads to a depletion in the body physically or a state of deficits psychologically. We are wired to self regulate and resist such changes which reflects in our desire to slip back to our wayward ways of the previous years!

Setting unrealistic targets: With age, you tend to get more aware of your strengths and limitations. Setting sky-high expectations, without taking into account your limitations, is basically setting yourself up for failure. This is also called the “false hope syndrome."

Failure to set specific goals: When a resolution is vague, it becomes really difficult to plan and execute it.
Example: ‘I will be more social in the year 2018’ vs ‘I will go out and meet friends/family every weekend’
The latter gives you a 'point of action.' It is measurable, definitive and evaluative. There are no grey areas, only specific actions.

Lacking time management skills: Any change that you wish to make needs to be consciously scheduled into your day. People assume the the time to execute new year resolutions will magically appear but that's never the case. One needs to consciously allot time to a new year resolution.

Tips to follow the resolutions

-You are bound to be more successful in sticking to your resolution if you allow yourself some flexibility and cheat days. There will be days when you cant stick to your resolution, and if you allow yourself a day in the week to let loose, it's easier to pick it up the next day. Otherwise, you tend to say, “ "I anyways skipped it yesterday, so I can skip it today as well”. If you work your breaks into your resolution, after a day off, you will be motivated to get back to your resolution.

Incorporate your limitations into your resolution: By accepting your limitations and weaknesses, you allow yourself to grow as a person and also develop strategies to deal with such limitations.

Ex: I am an afternoon person, and I set a resolution to go walking every morning before I leave for work.
I face resistance on two levels here. Firstly its difficult to wake up early, secondly I'm not used to any kind of physical activity. Therefore, I work around it by being flexible about the timings.

Have faith in your ability to accomplish your resolution: This implies being self-assured about how you intend to meet your goals, what your plan of action is and what your back-up plans are.

Reduce Distractions: Especially those situations/events/people who may take your attention away from your goal, or might tempt you to go easy for long intervals.

Use more cues: We most often seperate our resolutions with our current life and lifestyle. Use events in your environment to remind you of your resolutions. Ex of a common resolution: I will travel more this year.
Vs: I will use my long weekends of the year to travel. With this change, every long weekend you see in your calendar is a cue to you, that you need to start making travel plans.

Don’t rely only on your own levels of self control: Rope in external motivators and evaluators who will help you to redirect yourself towards the right direction whenever you go off track.

Accept Failure: No one can succeed entirely. There are always ups and downs. The key is to keep going even when you are being pulled down by disappointment and failures.

Celebrate success: Don’t wait till you accomplish your final goal to celebrate.

Happy New Year!

Contributed by Miss Gayathri Rao, Certified Cognitive Behaviour Therapist
Msc Psychology (Clinical)

Medical Consultant, DocsApp