The new year is approaching and along with that, thoughts, hopes and wishes for the upcoming year. Many people have the custom of creating New Year’s resolutions, the most common among them including weight loss, quitting smoking, and exercising regularly. People create these resolutions believing that by asserting a resolution, there will be an increased likelihood of their anticipated result coming to fruition.
As popular as New Year’s resolutions are (160,000,000 results turned up in .04 seconds after doing a simple Google search on the topic), they don’t work. According to a research study by University of Scranton, only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions goals. While psychologists have hypothesized the low success rate of these resolutions, people still maintain the tradition.
While I am a big proponent and believer of change, I also recognize that such resolutions have the potential to set people up for failure, hence creating an unintentional, adverse effect.
Here are 5 reasons I believe why you should not create New Year’s resolutions, followed by thoughts on what you can consider instead.
- New Year’s resolutions don’t provide a framework. Let’s take the resolution of weight loss. People resolve to lose a certain amount of weight without taking into account a holistic action plan. Without a plan, resolutions don’t appear to be a far-fetched. But, without a framework, people are left empty-handed and directionless. Major lifestyle changes require a consistent action plan to which people must recommit every day.
- New Year’s resolutions do not solve the root of the problem. When creating a resolution, most people look at the surface-level problem without looking any deeper. In the weight loss case, for example, being overweight is just a symptom to a deeper problem. The real problem is the uninvestigated thoughts and emotions, during any eating experience, that cause people to consume more food than needed. Stress, boredom, and social pressure, and urges are just a few reasons that cause people to eat when they are not hungry and cause them to continue to eat when they are full. Resolving to lose weight will not occur unless people do the work to understand the source of their dysfunctional eating habits and patterns.
- New Year’s resolutions are not multi-faceted. As humans, we are biological, emotional, mental, physical, energetic, spiritual, physiological, sexual, and social human beings. Eating is not just about satisfying a physical desire. If it were, no one would be overweight. People would simply eat to satisfy their hunger, and then stop. But, of course, this does not happen. There are multiple contributing factors that must be understood as a part of the complexity of any human behavior and certainly in regards to change.
- New Year’s resolutions typically don’t imbue joy. Let’s face it, the act of losing weight doesn’t sound very appealing. In fact, most resolutions connote a feeling of an upward battle, something that innately demands an inner fight. If you are going to war with yourself, you will unlikely stay committed to your resolution, and instead seek false pleasures that will only bring you temporary happiness.
- Growth takes time. In the instant gratification world in which we live in, many people expect to achieve results immediately. Most people don’t have the patience to wait a year to witness results. And if they don’t witness immediate results, the chances are slim they will maintain their commitments. Growth takes time. Nothing of value has ever grown overnight – not a business, not a child, and certainly not a change in lifestyle. True change necessitates practicing over time, not just within one year, but over a lifetime.
Rather than making New Year’s resolutions this year, perhaps consider an alternative. Hire a coach, join a group program, or enroll in a course that will support you to create real change in your life. Often, when we focus our energy away from what we believe needs to be fixed and instead redirect it inwards to recognize who we are, how we are showing up in the world, and why we act they way we do, changes (both anticipated and unanticipated) will naturally flow from that deep place of deep understanding and expanded consciousness.