Setting manageable New Year’s resolutions can help people follow through

In Opinion
New Year's resolutions are often abandoned because they are too detailed and shared with others. To help maintain resolutions people can set small attainable goals and keep their goals personal. (Hannah Miller / Daily Titan)

2018 is just around the corner, and talk of New Year’s resolutions are buzzing. However, the conversation is starting to take a cynical turn as people discuss the futility of dedicating the new year to a promise with an expiration date of usually two months.

Instead of harboring such a pessimistic attitude toward the potentially productive tradition, people have to start small and understand the purpose of these personal promises.

Part of the problem comes from people flaunting their resolutions to friends and peers. It’s an easy tactic and makes some feel as though they’ve already completed the goal without attempting anything.

That satisfaction from telling a friend about plans to get fit is enough validation for people to postpone any efforts to start a New Year’s resolution.

The term for this phenomenon is known as social reality, according to a study published by a journal from Association for Psychological Science. By receiving that good feeling of telling someone plans, it satisfies the need to actually follow through.

Obviously as the time comes, people will talk about their goals for the upcoming year, but if people wouldn’t be so broad and open in their hopes right away, they would be able to talk about their progress rather than just their new resolution.

For 2015 and 2016, the most common resolutions were focused on staying fit and healthy, losing weight, enjoying life to the fullest, saving more and spending less and traveling more, according to Nielsen, a data consumer researcher.

People use the holiday as a clean slate and tell themselves that they will do better this year. It works for a while, but after the first week a little over a quarter of people already lose motivation to maintain their resolution, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute.

Some may even make it to June by tricking themselves into being ok with a half-hearted effort filled with mistakes. These won’t be resolution-ending mistakes as long as they are corrected in the future.

If people are trying to atone for their past, then why is it so hard for them to keep their resolutions? These goals are usually manageable and would really benefit the person who sticks with them, but people are too fast to break them.

Staying fit can improve quality, and even quantity of life.

If people choose to travel more to make their life more fulfilling, they should take that goal, complete it and use it to snowball into their future goals.

Saving more money and spending less will help with stress in emergency situations and will allow people to buy more expensive items when necessary

It’s easy to say these things and not follow through. That’s generally how these resolutions end up. But the key to actually holding onto these promises is starting one step at a time.

To make greater progress on resolutions, start small. If people have laundry lists of resolutions, their goals become much less manageable.

People work better when they focus on one thing, instead of trying to change all of their behaviors, according to the American Psychological Association.

Nobody is perfect. So when people don’t meet their resolutions, they shouldn’t beat themselves up about it. Missteps are normal and shouldn’t make them give up completely. As important as these resolutions may be to some people, they have other things in their life as well that are going to take their attention away. They just need to get back on track as soon as they can.

Also, not meeting the exact resolution doesn’t mean failure. If people even get through the year and make only minor adjustments to their lifestyle, they should consider it a win. By meeting it at all, people are doing better than they did last year.

As 2017 comes to a close, use the next 31 days wisely to come up with some specific resolutions and maybe don’t tell everyone.

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