Do New Year’s Resolutions Really Work?

by Valerie, Mom Knows It All

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New Year's resolutions


Do you believe in making New Year’s resolutions? I don’t.

The beginning of a new year is often the time when we reflect on the year that has passed and see things that we would like to change or do differently. A new year represents a new start, a new chapter and a blank page in life. Many people have a desire to live better, reach new goals, and make a fresh start. Those people make New Year’s resolutions to do things differently, then step into the New Year with the greatest and sincerest of intentions. Unfortunately, New Year’s resolutions show that good intentions are not sufficient to make permanent changes in our lives. Even the most well intentioned New Year’s resolutions often fail as quickly as they are made.

Why do most New Year Resolutions fail?

Most of us are motivated more by pleasure than pain. Many resolutions involve some kind of deprivation of pleasure whether it be eating, or stopping a bad habit. We know that although we enjoy our bad habits, their consequences are ultimately not beneficial for either our health or life. The desire for instant gratification for short term pleasure is far stronger than any mental logical sense of reason in most cases. We know in our head what we should do, but doing it when it opposes our immediate desires is tough.

The subconscious mind is trained by the constant repetition of the beliefs, values and lifestyle that you have taken and lived from an early age. It automatically follows the familiar and well trodden path of well ingrained thoughts, beliefs and behaviors. The subconscious operates from such a well established history that it responds automatically with learned responses and behavior. This is why it is so difficult to create new habits of thoughts and behaviours, the subconscious mind will always try to revert to old familiar way of doing things, because they have become so automatic. Permanent change can be achieved, but it takes hard work by the conscious mind to retrain our subconscious mind.

It is said that you need to do something at least 30 times to create a new habit. For changes in life long learned behaviors it can take far more than that. For example have you ever got in the car and driven to your destination, and not really remember the journey there. You have been driving using the learned behaviors of your subconscious mind, and your conscious mind has been thinking about something else. However if you were to drive in a different country whose custom is to drive on the other side of the road your conscious mind would be working very hard to correct the learned and instinctive behavior of your subconscious mind. In fact the whole experience of driving on the other side of the road feels wrong and uncomfortable, and if you lose your concentration you could find yourself automatically going back to familiar patterns and become a road hazard!

If you must make New year’s resolutions, here are 8 tips for working towards achieving them.

  • Don’t expect instant results. Change is a process.
  • Plan small attainable steps towards your desired goal.
  • Write down your steps and goals.
  • Once you complete a step, continue to practice it until it feels automatic before you progress to the next step.
  • Don’t give up if you experience set backs.
  • Review your new steps and goals frequently.
  • Visualize what reaching your goal will look and feel like.
  • Be sure to find people who will support and encourage you on the way.

Best of luck achieving your resolutions!

Do you believe in making New Year’s resolutions? Do you have tips for achieving them?

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