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Breaking your resolutions

It’s the first week of January which means it is the traditional time to break all the resolutions that we all set a few days ago. Already I’m doing less exercise and treating vegetables as the enemy.

I’m trying to recall making a proper resolution to keep, one of the big “I will change my life” resolutions such as finding love or learning Klingon. Or even something as absurd as taking up running and eating humus. However, I can’t recall making a single one of these promises.

I am always confused why people determine that they will change their lives based upon the arbitrary date chosen to start a new calendar. Is there a difference to your willpower from the 31st December to the 1st January, what is it about the changing of the year that makes people decide that this is now the point at which they are going to the gym or to sort out their lives?

I would think the science behind keeping a New Year’s Resolution would show that you are more likely to fail at a life changing pledge if you select a start date as opposed to just doing it when you first think of it. Surely you would be more successful at exercising if one Tuesday in June you just started going to the gym or running around the park.

In effect by marking the beginning of the year as a new start you are writing off any chance for improvement for the rest of the year. If on November 7th you decide that you will attempt to go on more dates won’t this just mean you will not try for the next seven weeks? In my experience putting something off once just means you will put it off time and time again.

Just like a puppy a New Year’s Resolution is not just for the festive period, real life change is not just a flash in the pan with a half-hearted attempt to learn to knit or start saving for a house. It’s hard work to break habits and by choosing to use a method notorious for broken promises and not being taken seriously it is surely a set-up for failure.

So rather than making resolutions (which as the United Nations shows are unenforceable and ineffective) set goals, aim to do something by June or October. It gives you more time to recover from any setbacks and won’t make you feel like a failure should you open that bar of chocolate later today.