At the end of every December, funny memes and Instagram reels poking fun at the irrelevance of New Year’s resolutions begin to hit our social media pages. Jokes about crowded gyms are repeated every year and yet they never fail to amuse. And while we were all laughing, we also couldn’t help but wonder: do New Year’s resolutions work?
Decoding New Year’s resolutions
According to research studies, maybe not. TO Business Insider One article, reporting the results of a study conducted by the University of Scranton, said that “23 percent of people abandon their resolutions after just one week” and that “only 19 percent of people are truly capable of meeting their objectives for a long time. term…’
And yet, people set these resolutions every year, without flinching. Psychodynamic psychotherapist Jennifer von Baudissin, who is also clinical director of the Center for Psychiatry and Therapy, says that the beginning of a new year is one of the busiest times, as patients want to bring changes to their lives with the help of a therapist.
So what explains its enduring popularity?
People see it as a time to start over and reinvent themselves. Danielle Smith, a leadership and life coach, also points out that people have been doing it for so long that it might also just be “an old tradition that people cling to.” Interestingly, she has also noticed that people have begun to move away from materialistic goals and opt for goals that are more personal in nature. “I had a client who wanted to be himself,” she says. “Many people also talk about setting more boundaries in terms of who they spend their time with and spending quality time with themselves, their closest friends and family. So it’s more about slowing down and taking more time to focus on what’s really important to them.”
Experts have mixed feelings about setting your own New Year’s resolutions. Jennifer, for example, doesn’t do it at all. “I think she sets you up for failure because often these resolutions are extremely difficult to keep. When you set tasks like ‘I want to lose weight,’ ‘I want to stop drinking,’ and ‘I want to be more sociable,’ there is enormous pressure on you to achieve them.” Mental fitness coach Bettina Koster says she doesn’t wait for the new year to set new goals. Smith, meanwhile, doesn’t like the word “resolutions” and prefers to use “goals” instead. “Resolutions are really short-term. It is more important to keep the plan sustainable and make it a habit,” she notes, adding that every year she sets new goals and takes stock of her progress every week or month. “I believe in goals or ‘resolutions,’ as long as they are done the right way.”
Lessons from the New Year’s past
We are already in the second week of January and the euphoria of entering a new year has calmed down a bit. But unfortunately, you signed up for an expensive new gym membership before reality hit and now you’re experiencing the first pangs of regret. You also know that you’re just a few days away from feeling total panic because that’s what happened last year. And the year before that.
Experts, however, point out that people tend to forget the simplest rule of New Year’s resolutions: You don’t have to reach the goal before the end of January. “People start the new year with the best of intentions, but they often slip up after two or three weeks and give up completely in February,” Smith says. Here are the biggest mistakes people make when setting goals for the new year, and expert-approved tips to plan them better.
Opt for vague goals instead of specific, realistic ones: Koster says, “Instead of saying ‘I want to get in shape,’ plan something more specific like ‘I’ll go for a 30-minute run a day,’ if running is your thing.” Also, keep it realistic: can you really lose 10kg in two months?
Do not divide a goal into smaller, more feasible tasks: plan your goals well by having a clear strategy. “Instead of having a broader goal like ‘I want to speak a language,’ which can sometimes take years depending on the language, you can start by practicing 10 to 15 minutes every day. It is also important to check weekly what has been achieved and what has not been achieved,” says Koster.
Leaving no room for flexibility: An all-or-nothing approach is not only unsustainable, it can trap you in a toxic cycle of making and breaking resolutions.
So if you’ve decided to give up chocolates, leave some room for occasional, harmless indulgences because they’re unlikely to sabotage all the work you’ve done so far. “If you’re at a birthday party where you had some chocolate, you shouldn’t feel like you’ve completely ruined your New Year’s resolution because, actually, allowing a little flexibility is very important to achieving a goal,” she explains. Jennifer. “But instead, people say, ‘Oh no, now I’m going to eat three pieces of cake because I’ve ruined everything.’ She could also be repeating patterns from her past and this negative narrative in her mind can create even more mental health problems such as self-harm, abuse, excessive alcohol consumption or binge eating. It also affects your confidence. That’s why I think it’s very important not to let the past dictate the future and see it as a new beginning.”
Self-compassion, Koster adds, is important. “Because not every day is the same. “Sometimes you will be successful and sometimes you won’t.”
Not aligning your goals with your subconscious mind: Make sure your goals are aligned with what you want and not what society wants. “Some people may want something because it’s more socially accepted, because it looks attractive or whatever,” Koster says. “But unconsciously, they don’t really align. For example, a higher position at work can mean more stress, less time with family, and less time for health, so actually, on a deeper subconscious level, people may be okay with having less money. if that means having more time for health and family. . Working against your subconscious mind is never a good idea because our subconscious mind is actually in charge and our conscious mind just follows, even if we think it’s the other way around.”
Lack of clarity: Smith emphasizes that having clarity plays a very important role in achieving goals. “It’s really important to first clarify where you are currently, where you want to be and why, because it reveals the reasoning and motivation behind your goal – you may realize that your goals are actually different than what you think they are.”
Jennifer says she explores the deeper reasons behind patients’ New Year’s resolutions. And she adds: “Ask yourself: What are you waiting for? Why are you doing this in the first place? Why is it so black and white and why can’t you say, ‘I can have a drink once in a while when I’m with colleagues or at a party’? And the reason can give us a real clue as to what is happening to you. For example, you may want to stop ordering takeout. Now, if the patient is obese, it can help you understand why she wants to stop for health reasons. But if they’re very thin and they’re worried about getting fat, there may be a body image issue somewhere… So it really depends on how they present and what the problem is.”
Allow yourself negative self-talk: A positive approach always works best. Smith says, “If you want to lose weight, instead of saying ‘I don’t look good,’ say something like ‘It’s okay, I have a healthy body.’ “I would like to lose a couple of kilos just to feel better about my skin or just to have a little more energy.” That is a much more positive approach and can be very inspiring and affirming.” Also, consider sharing your goals with a friend or someone close to you, using them as a sounding board, and celebrating your achievements with them.
Jennifer also points out that people should stop comparing themselves to friends or those on social media. “Social media is a lie and feeds us all kinds of delusional fantasies,” she says. “And if your friends have cut out sugar, you don’t have to cut out sugar too; you can just cut out, for example, chocolates.” Stick to what you enjoy. “People decide to lift weights because they believe that is what is good for them. And they hate it. If you hate it, it’s a tough task. Don’t do it: Do something you really like, like horseback riding or swimming. If you enjoy something, you are more likely to follow through with it.”
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