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The New Year’s Resolution Paradox: Why planned changes often go astray

As the calendar flips to a new year, millions of people around the globe engage in the time-honored tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions. The promise of a fresh start and the opportunity for personal growth motivate individuals to declare their intentions for the upcoming year. However, the journey of following these resolutions is often met with challenges, with most goals being left in the dust just weeks or even moments after the first day of the new year.

In fact, January 19 has been identified as the day when most people tend to give up on their goals, humorously labeling it “Quitter’s Day.” Although not everyone is a quitter, it is pretty much common news that most New Year’s resolutions don’t run off consistently in the first few months of the year, but the question is why? The answer comes from planning and pondering on the actions we take.

Resolutions on a whim

It all starts with the plan, how far detailed do you imagine achieving your goals? One of the common problems of a weak resolution is its planning; “Often people do not map out or think about what it will take to accomplish a goal or make a resolution and instead rely on the excitement of the new year as the thing that will push them to accomplish their goal,” says therapist Amanda E. White.

With resolutions coming on a whim during the holidays or while you’re at the year-end party, these goals are constructed just as a goal to achieve, giving you that short-lived pleasure of finally getting to attain something, while not even imagining how you’d do it. A rookie mistake, but at this point, how many years have you seen others falling for it?

Unrealistic goals

With proper planning, you’re set to achieve anything, as far as logic goes. However, do consider how big your goal is as in a literal sense, it may be hard to carry. “Where we go wrong with New Year’s resolutions is there’s this idea that it’s supposed to be some big, sweeping change, because that sounds kind of sexy, — as humans we’re not wired to make big, sweeping changes.” licensed clinical psychologist Terri Bly explained.

An example of a heavy goal may be quitting an addiction, although possible, take note that this won’t happen on a snap. As Bly pointed out, you need to take small steps to achieve goals, the bigger the goal the more steps one should take. Bly also adds that those who are likely to stick with their New Year’s resolution are people who have already taken action upon that goal before they become new year’s resolutions, further reinforcing the premise that resolutions don’t work on a whim.

Having a reason behind a goal

Whether you’re taking a big or small step depends entirely on you, new year’s resolution will always be optional, just take note of the difficulty. When resolutions come to fade, however, another thing to recall is your reason for doing that goal. “Why do I want to lose weight?”, “Why do I have to start saving money?” Bly concurs that “If we hate doing it, any goal we set is just pain and we’re not really sure what the reward is going to be, we’re not going to do it.” Every New Year’s resolution has a reason, hence why it cannot live long as a whim.


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