Are New Year’s Resolutions a Joke?

For many of us, 2012 will be a game changer.
2012 will see us entering the office to “Eye of the Tiger.” 2012 will be a three-minute montage showing alternate shots of us boxing, putting out cigarettes, fixing leaky pipes, and looking with satisfaction at a scale. And flossing. There will definitely be shots of flossing.
Or, 2012 will pass as most years pass, day after day. The pipes will continue to leak. There will be no boxing. Flossing habits will remain, at best, mediocre.
As many people point out, January 1st is not the best day to start implementing self-improvement, as a resolution such as “lose ten pounds” can quickly become “make it to nearest drug store for alka seltzer and Gatorade.” But January 1st cannot explain why the other 364 days of the year pass so quickly, leaving many confronting each new year as the last: with a sense of bewilderment, disappointment and tenuous hope.
So what makes a New Year’s resolution effective, if anything? We talked to a couple of experts, who gave us these tips to keep you on the path to self-initiated self-improvement.

  •  Good Intentions Aren’t Enough: Intentions are not the same as motivation, says clinical psychologist Steve Levinson, Ph.D. “People assume that if they have a good enough reason to adopt a given intention, that reason will provide them with all the motivation they need to actually follow through.” Not so.
  • Goals, Not Resolutions: Nancy Irwin, PsyD says that calling them resolutions gives them a negative “oh-here’s-another-thing-I’m-not-gonna-do” association.
  • Give a Little: Resolutions that benefit others may make the goal more achievable.
  • Allow Room for Error: Surprise! You’re not perfect. And that’s okay. “Your objectives must allow room for error,” says Fran Walfish, Psy.D., family psychotherapist. “When we fail ourselves we need to cut ourselves some slack and be kind, rather than self-judging.”
  • Go Small or Go Home: Set realistic goals. Yes, you might remodel your entire house. You might buy a house. You might win a Nobel, become a fireman, discover a new star, or a myriad of other things. Anything is possible. But Dr. Walfish says “it is much more effective to be realistic by thinking of ongoing objectives that can be achieved on a daily basis.”

What New Year’s Resolutions do you have? How do you plan on keeping them? Let us know on our Facebook page.

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