Having already looked at some ideas for New Year’s resolutions, we’re now going to look at how to maximise your chances of actually following through on whatever commitment you’ve been socially-coerced into making. What can make or break plans and promises, and how do we give ourselves a fighting chance? Why do we feel the need to make these resolutions every January, anyway? The most obvious explanation is the New Year itself – if the number changes, what else can we change? It’s a sort of psychological fresh-start, and we assure ourselves things will be better than the previous year. Some call it a new beginning, others a mere placebo, but whatever works, works. To the right are the top 10 (US) New Years Resolutions for 2015, according to Scranton University (via StatisticBrain). Standard stuff which we’ve all aspired to at one stage or another, until you get to number 8. Taking it literally (because it’s funnier) means actively involving yourself in other people’s dreams. In January, as we detox from heavy festivities, dreams can be very weird – I wouldn’t recommend getting involved in anyone else’s until at least mid-March. Number 9, “Fall in Love”, also seems nice, but concentrating too much on that aspect of personal life is unlikely to help it happen, and more often than not will prevent it from happening entirely. This one is also a bad idea. The same study tells us that only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolutions. Another interesting stat is the Age Success Rate: Before you assume all young people have stronger willpower, consider this: someone in their 50’s has experienced 30 more annual failures, so it’s entirely fair that they give up earlier. One of the few benefits of age.
Phrase it better
A study published in The Journal of Consumer Psychology showed that asking a question about your resolution instead of simply stating the desired outcome was effective. So, replace “I’ll stop watching movies on the toilet” with “Why would I ever want to watch a movie on the toilet?”. This encourages your brain to suggest a positive answer instead of reinforcing a negative, and the study shows a 14% increase in success using this little mind-trick.
We really are simple creatures.