Every year, millions of people make resolutions to improve their health, wealth, and happiness. Unfortunately, many of these promises are broken before the end of January. But it doesn’t have to be this way! By understanding the science behind why resolutions fail—and applying a few simple strategies—we can set ourselves up for success in achieving our goals. Let’s explore how.
Why We Fail at New Year’s Resolutions
The biggest obstacle to keeping your New Year's resolutions is that they require long-term commitment—something that humans are notoriously bad at. Our brains are hardwired to focus on short-term rewards rather than long-term gain. That means that when we set a goal for ourselves like “lose 10 pounds by summer” it’s easy to get sidetracked by more immediate pleasures like eating a pint of ice cream or skipping the gym once or twice (or three times).
Luckily, there are ways to hack our brains and use them to our advantage when it comes to making and sticking with resolutions. One method is known as “goal setting theory” which suggests breaking down big goals into smaller, achievable tasks. For example, instead of aiming for “lose 10 pounds by summer” you could break it down into smaller chunks such as “exercise five days a week for 45 minutes each session” or “eat five servings of vegetables each day”. This helps us frame our goals in terms of what we can do right now instead of what we hope will happen in the distant future—which makes us much more likely to actually follow through with them!
Another important strategy is positive reinforcement.
Research shows that positive reinforcement works better than punishment when it comes to creating lasting habits so reward yourself for small wins along the way towards your ultimate goal. For example, if you stick with your diet plan for an entire month then treat yourself with something special like tickets to a movie or a new outfit. This will help keep you motivated and provide an extra boost whenever you start feeling discouraged or overwhelmed by your resolution.
New Year's resolutions can be intimidating because they require us to change our behavior and commit ourselves over time—two things that humans have difficulty doing consistently and successfully. However, by understanding the science behind why we struggle with resolutions and applying some simple strategies such as goal setting theory and positive reinforcement, we can set ourselves up for success in achieving our goals this year! So don't give up hope; take advantage of these tips and start 2021 off on the right foot! Good luck!
Northeast Missouri Health Council, Partners for a lifetime of health
Medical, Dental, and Behavioral Clinics in Kirksville, Missouri, Macon, Missouri, Milan, Missouri, and Kahoka, Missouri. Visit our website to find the nearest clinic to you. www.nemohealthcouncil.com