What Will We Resolve This Year?

Right now, all we want is a bit of normalcy. Let’s face it, the month of December thrusts a great deal of change and disruption upon us. Maybe it’s the disruption of too much fun and camaraderie. Maybe it’s an excess of familial joy. Or perhaps it’s darker memories that you’re carrying into the new year. Is this a good time to resolve for yet more change? In Fast Company, Justin Pot tells us no. He claims that science says this is probably the worst time of year to make changes.

Unfortunately, we can’t find the science he’s citing.

The Science of Behavior Change

It’s biblical. “I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate,” writes Paul in his letter to the Romans. This is more insight into human behavior than theology. However, the bottom line is this: changing behaviors is hard because many factors beyond conscious thought determine what we do. So it’s unsurprising that, as Marlatt and Kaplan observed almost 50 years ago, most resolutions come to nothing.

If you really do want to make some changes, though, a bit of reflection might help. Why do you want these changes? What’s really important to you? What are the negative feelings and influences that get in the way of these changes? Sorting out these factors can help with maintaining your resolve to make the changes you’ve chosen for yourself. Some of these ideas are building blocks for acceptance-based therapy, which has shown great promise in clinical trials for weight management.

Choose Positive Changes on Your Own Time

We like the sentiment that Michelle Cardel offers:

People often see the new year (new decade in this case) as their one chance for self-improvement or goal setting. But it’s not. There are 365 days in a year and you can make a resolution to change on any one of them.

So if you’re ready for some changes now, go for it and be mindful of your reasons and the factors that might get in the way. But if your goal is a return to normalcy, we’re with you.

For more on New Year’s resolutions, click here, here, here, and here.

Now, photograph © Kalyan / flickr

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January 7, 2020

One Response to “What Will We Resolve This Year?”

  1. January 07, 2020 at 2:09 pm, David Brown said:

    Here is another perspective on why resolutions fail. Excerpt: “When people buy gym memberships, they have the best of intentions in mind, but the commitments are made in a charged emotional state. Motivation helps with short-term objectives, but is virtually useless for objectives that require a greater length of time to accomplish. In other words, don’t totally discount the value of motivation, but don’t count on it to last long either because it won’t.”