Resolve to aim for happiness, too
If you’ve made a New Year’s resolution this year, it will be about now that you might be starting to struggle.
Researchers at the University of Bristol showed there is only a 12 per cent chance you’ll be able to keep it.
So, why on earth can’t we stick to our New Year’s resolutions?
Before we look at why most fail, what are the most popular resolutions in the first place?
American research shows that health-related resolutions are most popular, with both exercise and healthy eating goals being the most attractive.
This will come as no surprise if you’ve ever visited a gym in January. Gyms get absolutely packed at the beginning of the year, with eager newbies excited to fulfil their resolutions.
By February, though, the eagerness seems to have oozed out of them and they disappear from the gym.
Why would people abandon their resolutions so soon?
It’s likely that people give up on resolutions due to a loss of motivation – but surely this loss of motivation wouldn’t occur if we could set a good resolution in the first place.
Psychology tells us that we are setting resolutions with the wrong mindset.
The University of Chicago asked people what mattered for them most when they set a resolution. Most mentioned the “importance” of the goal playing a big role.
Psychologists believe that the participants were wrong to have this mindset, saying: “We make a fundamental mistake in assuming that we will stick to ... the goal just because something is clearly important to do.”
It leaves me asking, why should we set a resolution based on how important the outcome is when we could instead dream one up based on the enjoyment we will get from the outcome?
I feel a resolution should be focused on the enjoyment of getting to our goal, as well as seeking enjoyment when it is achieved.
It’s obvious that boredom is the reason people stop going to gyms by February. Sure, a gym is a most straightforward, obvious way to lose weight, but for someone who has never been into sport before, it could make exercise seem difficult, intimidating and boring. What if we used outside-the- box solutions to achieve our goals instead?
To lose weight you could try boxercise classes or take up squash, try hiking or dancing.
This could also be applied to dieting – a sweet tooth could be satisfied by having a bowl of chopped fruit on your desk to substitute for sweet, fatty foods.
When you go upon the quest to achieve your 2018 resolution, remember that importance isn’t the reason you should be pumping up in the gym or cutting down on cakes.
Happiness is the main goal. The secret recipe to resolution success doesn’t just involve you enjoying the outcome, but enjoying striving or the outcome. Try to find a unique way to achieve your goal and, most importantly, stay motivated.
-- Harvey Jordan is a student at King Edward VI School, Bury St Edmunds