New Years resolutions can be tricky, but, c’mon guys, if you’re trying to be a better version of yourself on January 1, why not just live like that from January 2 to December 31 every single year, right? Look, I get it, a new year means a new start, but making a New Years resolution isn’t always going to mean you’ll become a better version of yourself.
For instance, after being in a funk a couple of years ago, the optimism and cheer of the holiday season made me think that I was going to make big changes in my life. I said I’d stop eating dinner after 9 p.m., I was going to workout at least five days a week again, and I would finally start piecing together my own website — hell, I even bought the domain and met with an old colleague who then headed up digital at Viacom. Guess how long all that lasted as the new year came, though? Oh, about six weeks.
It’s sad to say, but New Years resolutions aren’t things that we often find ourselves actually sticking to. That’s because, for better or worse, life comes at us fast, throwing different situations that we need to adapt to. New jobs, new girlfriends, vacations, bills, etc., it can all throw us off-track from what we’re focusing on when anticipating a new year coming.
For those who, like myself in the past, have had some difficulty sticking with New Years resolutions, you’re in luck, because the good folks over at Business Insider talked to a behavioral scientist to see what you can do to follow through on all those grand plans. And, since 2019 is only a few days away and we’re all making our New Years resolutions, here are some ways to keep them.
Why do people make New Years resolutions?
Making New Years resolutions has become a tradition that started centuries ago, as the Romans back in 153 B.C. decided that, on December 31, they would make a plan to become better in the following year. With the month of January named after Janus — a mythical god of early Rome who had two faces, with one facing forward and the other backwards — Romans believed that the new month, and year, allowed him to look back on the past and forward toward the future. They also believed that Janus could forgive them for any wrongdoings from the previous year, and, thus, New Years resolutions came to be.
Since then, people everywhere have been making New Years resolutions for themselves, hoping to rid themselves of poor habits or things they disliked in one year and bettering themselves in the next. Whether these are goals, new ventures or something else, New Years resolutions serve as inspiration to people to work towards becoming the best version of themselves.
Is there a general rule to follow when making New Years resolutions?
When it comes to New Years resolutions, there really aren’t rules to follow, so to speak. That said, according to Yale psychology Professor John Bargh, who spoke with Business Insider, said that people should only make resolutions or try something new if it’s really important to them personally, and if they’re doing it for themselves, not for anyone else.
“I wouldn’t play around with these things,” Bargh said.
Another part of the reason that New Year’s resolutions so often fail, Bargh said, is that people enjoy sharing their failures with others. Complaining about how we just can’t resist our favorite temptations can foster a sense of belonging and camaraderie among the not-so-resolved.
So, while there aren’t rules on what a person should do when it comes to New Years resolutions, it is important to choose things for you, not anyone else. That might be a selfish way of thinking, but if you’re trying to change for attention, is it really that genuine?
How can I stick to my New Years resolutions?
OK, now that you’ve got the nitty gritty of New Years resolutions, how about we answer the question at hand: how the heck can you actually stick with them in 2019? According to Bargh, there are some simple things to remember when making a New Years resolution.
First, keep your new promise to yourself for at least a month, with no exceptions. Bargh added, “You don’t wanna make promises that you don’t keep to your body and your mind.”
Second, make sure you replace bad behaviors with good ones. A good example of this is a person who goes from their couch to running a 5k. They simply push themselves mentally to move and, all of a sudden, their body reacts and follows through on that motivation.
All that said, remember, New Years resolutions aren’t easy to adjust to, but you need to push through and stick with the changes you want to see in yourself. In fact, some research from the Business Insider piece points to how tough it is to have your mind adapt to new circumstances or routines.
Research suggests it can take as little as 18 days or as long as 254 to pick up a new routine, depending on what you’re trying to do. But Bargh said a month is a good measuring stick for trying on a new resolution. If you try something out for the first 31 days of the year and you don’t like the change, you can decide to forgo it in February. But give the idea a fighting chance with a month of solid, uninterrupted effort.
When you make New Years resolutions for yourself, you’re more inclined to keep them in order to make your own happiness. So stop making excuses on why you stopped doing them and get yourself closer to the person you ultimately want to be by following some of the above advice.
To see all the advice from Business Insider, head on over to their website, which details all New Years resolutions tips for you to follow through with in 2019. Best of luck, fellas!