Why you fail at your resolutions and how to finally break the cycle of failure
Research conducted in 2017, by the Statistic Brain Research Institute, shows that while 72.6 percent of people maintain their New Year Resolutions during the first week, only 44.8 percent maintain it past eight months and at the end of the year, only 9.2 percent feel like they’ve been successful at their resolutions. Before you throw in the towel and decide you’re never making any resolutions, the same research shows that people who explicitly make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals, than people, who don’t explicitly make resolutions.
Why We Fail
The common reason for failure is overconfidence. This happens because when embarking on self-change, we tend to feel in control and optimistic, and these feelings supersede lessons from past experiences, according to Janet Polivy and C. Peter Herman, authors of a 2000 study published in the Current Directions in Psychological Science. The two researchers explained in their study that one cause of overconfidence “may be the inflated promises of change programs. Groups, books and other sources of help with changing, often play into people’s fantasies that they can change enormously, and do so effortlessly and quickly, acquiring tremendous benefits.” Another cause is, people overestimate their likelihood to complete tasks.
Bad habits are also hard to break because, according to Johns Hopkins University neuroscientists, the human brain is wired to pay attention to previously enjoyable things. You might make a resolution to save more but keep thinking about the pretty dresses you could be buying.
A survey by researchers from University of Washington shows that some ways of succeeding at your resolutions is to have coping strategies for problems that may arise and to keep track of progress.
Make The Most Of “Fresh Starts”
Have you ever noticed that, say, during your birthday you feel like you have a fresh opportunity to give your dreams a shot one more time (or to stick it out if motivation was going down)? Well, according to researchers from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, in an article in Management Science titled The Fresh Start Effect: Temporal Landmarks Motivate Aspirational Behavior, special occasions and calendar events, such as the start of a new week, birthdays, fresh semesters, anniversaries and holidays, signal new beginnings, which increase aspiration behavior. This is because these landmarks offer opportunities to appraise yourself, and according to the researchers, you view your current self in a positive light when you compare yourself to the old you; people attribute their past mistakes with their former selves, and this motivates them to go after their goals with this new positive self-image in mind. Also, “temporal landmarks interrupt attention to day-to-day minutiae, causing people to take a big-picture view of their lives and thus focus more on achieving their goals,” the researchers wrote. Use these time landmarks as accounting periods and follow through on your goals.