Pauline Peters, RP (Qualifying) #9412 is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. She works with couples and individuals 18yrs and up through anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. Learn more about Pauline here.

New Years Resolutions – To Do or Not to Do

Happy New Year to you all!!

This is the time of year where many of us rethink how we can make positive changes, particularly in the areas of our lifestyles concerning eating, exercising, working, or connecting. 

According to Wikipedia, a New Year’s resolution occurs when

“a person resolves to continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behaviour, accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life at the start of a new year.” 

Some of the most common resolutions include: losing weight, spending less money, saving more money, reading more, smoking cessation, becoming more active through exercise, learning a new skill, and better organization. Resolution-making indicates a desire by people to do better, be better, seek better. There is a desire to improve and change that which is not fulfilling into something that brings pleasure and reward.

As I started thinking about my own personal goals for 2022, I pondered on the success rate of resolutions and what might be necessary to aid in ensuring success with the desired goals. I was enlightened by a research study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology which reported that

“only about 46% of people who made New Year’s resolutions were successful.”

This left me pondering the reason/s as to why more than 50% of people who make New Year’s resolutions are not successful. What is needed for success?  How can more people reach their set goals?

When I look back on the history of my own successes and failures around resolutions, I recognize that three things are required: 

  1. Consistency;

  2. Accountability;

  3. Resolve.

(I like to refer to this as the “CAR” concept because I am in the driver’s seat of responsibility for my own actions and successes.). I will address each one separately.

Consistency is required both to build new habits and to release from old ones. According to Psychology Today it can take anywhere from six to nine months for form a habit.  It requires a lot of time and work! Consistency allows for the development of routine. Getting up the same time every morning, eating breakfast, working out, brushing your teeth, commuting to work, going to bed the same time each night- all contribute to a consistent lifestyle. When consistency is carried out, it gives way to self-control, confidence-building and a momentum to sustain the routine.  Without it, there is a lack of focus and the habit often cannot be formed.  Consistency brings results!

Accountability is also needed for success in resolutions.  Accountability brings about partnership that can foster results. Stephen R. Covey, the author of The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, is quoted as saying,

“accountability breeds response-ability.”

When we know that we have to answer to others, we respond accordingly.  We are more likely to get up in the morning and do that workout knowing that our friend is doing the same, or will be inquiring as to whether we did or not. With accountability, there is a responsibility to report back. This responsibility is often what fuels action, either for fear or disappointment or for the reward of praise.  Sharing personal goals with a friend or trusted confidant can bring about a sense of goal reality and can help shift motivation. A study by the American Society of Training and Development found that making a commitment to another person with regular report check-ins on progress increases success chances by 95%! Find someone to partner with you to help you achieve your resolution success.  

Last but not least, resolve can help bring about resolution success. What exactly is resolve? According to Miriam-Webster dictionary, one definition of resolve is

“to make a definite and serious decision to do something.”

So basically, resolve is making up your mind to do something and sticking with it. Sometimes not giving yourself an option to not do something can be a driving force to accomplishment. There is no option to NOT do. American author & poet, Ella Wheeler Wilcox stated that,

“There is no chance, no destiny, not fate that can hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul.”

Resolve can spur you on towards action and foster determination and grit to keep going, even when there is the temptation to quit. Resolve is what helps you to be committed and to keep striving.  It allows you to keep your eyes on the prize and to keep pushing until what you had set out to do was complete. Resolve to resolve!

New Year’s Resolutions are challenging and can be difficult to achieve, but are not impossible. The “CAR” concept of consistency, accountability and resolve can be employed to improve your chances of success on your journey towards a more positive life and you. Good luck!

Pauline Peters, RP (Qualifying) #9412 is a Registered Psychotherapist (Qualifying) at MyLife Counselling in Guelph. She works with couples and individuals 18yrs and up through anxiety, depression, and relationship issues. Learn more about Pauline here.

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