Kevin King offers advice on how to actually keep a new year’s resolution going, in this Right as Rain story by UW Medicine.
How to Make New Year’s Resolutions That Actually Work
When you think about New Year's, what do you get excited about? The ball dropping? The Rose Bowl? The midnight kiss?
For many people, the enthusiasm of the new year fizzles when it comes to resolution-making.
That’s because more often than not, New Year’s resolutions are about dropping some pounds, dropping fewer dollars, dropping certain utterances from your vocabulary and dropping pretty much everything else that makes the daily slog tolerable. And while these un-fun-sounding adult responsibilities are usually intended to improve you in some way, chances are you’ll renege on them anyway.
Even the word itself — resolution — does not inspire excitement.
There has to be a better way.
How most people make New Year’s resolutions
Say after work every day, you come home, plop on the couch and binge watch Netflix until you fall asleep. You’ll scarf down dinner, of course, and scroll through Instagram for some of that time but otherwise it’s all about marathoning Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Narcos: Mexico.
No judgment. There’s something about this routine that works for you.
But there’s also something about the routine that’s not working. Let’s face it: This social media-from-the-sofa thing has not exactly brought meaning to your life. There’s the stubborn fact that you are spending almost all your waking hours sedentary. And your screen time, well, let’s not even go there.
So you make a resolution that as of the new year, you will head to the gym after work, instead of the couch. You figure you’ll improve your heart health, screen time and step numbers all at once.
Sounds like the New Year’s resolution trifecta, right?
“Wrong,” says Kevin King, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington. “That’s a classic New Year’s resolution and, like most of them, it’s likely to fail.”
Why our New Year’s resolutions usually fail
King says that there’s one thing in common that almost everyone gets wrong when they make New Year’s resolutions.
“We think about the benefits of changing and the costs of not changing,” says King. “But we don’t consider the flip side: the costs of changing and the benefits of not changing.”
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