As you know, most of us never follow through on the New Year’s resolutions we make at the end of the year. Perhaps, part of the problem is that we always make punitive resolutions. In other words, we frame resolutions in terms of things we want to do without: “Go on a diet.” “Consume less sugar.” “Don’t watch as much TV.” Psychologists have long held that these resolutions have almost zero chance of success.
Often, these resolutions feel like they’re about nothing more than punishing ourselves. What about framing resolutions by thinking about ideas that will make our lives better in the future? This kind of resolution can be framed in terms of rewarding the future self, not punishing the person we are today.
Here are four commonly failed New Year’s resolutions, plus some examples of how to make resolutions that stick:
Diets are about restricting foods and feeling hungry. And we know that diets don’t work. What’s more, some fad diets, like hcg, require starvation and are very dangerous. It’s just best not to go this route.
Alternative: Do something to reward you. For example, if you’ve never cooked much, resolve to get better at that this year. Eating more nutritious, home-cooked meals is a very common way of getting healthy without denying yourself.
If you’ve never liked running, you’re not going to like it this time around. But try to think of exercise as an investment in your future well-being. Also keep in mind that exercise should not feel like a punishment.
Alternative: If you’ve never been able to commit to exercise, choose something fun that you know you’ll enjoy. More and more women are getting into roller derby these days. Or give yourself a new skill by signing up for krav maga classes. This provides a great workout and also teaches practical self-defense moves.
If you have a serious debt problem but are not independently wealthy, chances are you won’t resolve this problem in one year. So, don’t set yourself up for failure by resolving to fix your credit in 2012.
Alternative: Resolve to start getting your credit trouble under control. Think of this as a way to make life easier and better for you in the future. Arrange to see a free credit counselor. Be very careful with this, as many credit counseling agencies are scams. Check out the IRS consumer alerts to be safe. Also, set up a budget so that you can become more aware of where your money goes.
Economic times are tough right now. Social mobility in America has stalled for many. Things are predicted to get even worse if the economic troubles facing Europe reach the U.S. So, don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t landed your dream job yet. Many Americans are in the same boat.
Alternative: Stop thinking in terms of perceived personal failures. Instead, resolve to give yourself a new skill that can help you find that job you want. Would learning a new language or beefing up on the language skills you have serve your goals? Try enrolling in a language class at your local community college, or use the excellent Rosetta Stone program.
Are there other skills or certifications that will make you a better candidate? Try to take courses at your community college or university. Remember, this is about being good to yourself to get closer to your goals. You may not land a new job this year, but you’re giving yourself the skills to do so in the future.
What are some other common New Year’s resolutions, and how can you reframe them to work for you?