“New year, new me,” is what approximately 50 percent of the population believes…
However, these people fall into “cultural procrastination” – an effort to reinvent oneself – according to researcher John Norcross and his colleges as well as Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University.
GBHS Senior Carson Rapisura said that new year’s resolutions are a way people try to motivate themselves.
“New year’s resolutions are just a tiny reminder that another year has passed. It’s more of a reflection of the previous year than it is a goal for the future; people look at the mistakes they had made over the past year and think that the change in calendar years will transform everything. Truth is, everything stays the same, you’re just one year older.” Rapisura said.
Sophomore Shreya Dodballapur said that most people just aren’t ready to change their habits. This in turn leads to high failure rates.
“A lot of people fall short of their goals because we don’t prioritize them anymore and we don’t have the commitment we need to have,” Dodballapur said.
According to professor Peter Herman and his colleagues, they have identified this as the “false hope syndrome” which means their resolution is significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with their internal view of themselves.
Among the top resolutions are weight loss, exercise, stopping smoking, better money management, and debt reduction.
Dodballapur said that a popular example of this is making a resolution to try to be healthier, but a month in, you don’t even remember that you made that goal, and when you do, you just really don’t care anymore.
“A resolution I made was to wake up earlier so I wouldn’t be late. I did okay for a while, but I didn’t end up accomplishing that, because I started sleeping through my alarm and I was not used to waking up that early,” Dodballapur said.
New years resolutions are so challenging to maintain because of the state of comfort we have to leave behind us in order to change for the better.
“A suggestion I would give to someone trying to keep their resolutions is to make it a habit. So instead of doing it for a couple days and then skipping a few and coming back to it, make sure to do it everyday until it’s ingrained into you,” Dodballapur said.
Phillippa Lally, health psychology researcher at University College London (and her team), figured out exactly how long it takes to form a habit.
The team concluded that on average, it takes a person more than two months or 66 days before a behavior becomes autonomic.
How long it takes for the habit to form can widely depend on the person, their behavior, or the circumstance.
In Lally’s study, it took anywhere from 18 days to 254 days for people to form a new habit. So, in reality, people will have to have more commitment and desire to really want to change any of their “bad habits” and form new ones.
“It probably doesn’t work out because all the nice things you see and want to become takes a lot of work.” Senior Angela Gross said. “Most people realize that that’s not who they are – especially if they are not a dedicated person – and so they won’t end up falling through.”
Gross said the first time something goes wrong people assume “well, it wasn’t for me” and then fall back into their bad habits. But there are ways to be successful.
“Don’t take on more than you realistically can because it is disappointing when you break them all,” Gross said. “Take baby steps and make smaller ones you can keep at first and then build up from there.”