By RACHEL HENRY
As we enter 2012, more than half of the population has made a promise to themselves: to succeed in their New Year’s resolution.
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, about 50 per cent of people make these commitments each year.
The top resolutions include quitting smoking, weight loss, increased exercise, better money management and to get out of debt.
Although almost everyone starts out with good intentions and a clear view of the goal they’d like to achieve, the vast majority falls short of their target.
Resolutions are a form of “cultural procrastination,” as termed by Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University.
In other words, people are using the new year as a way to motivate themselves into reinvention. A date on the calendar is not going to motivate you to go to the gym at 6 a.m. every morning – you have to want it, and you have to work hard to achieve your goal.
The challenge is not only being specific in choosing your resolution, but planning it out. Being unrealistic can not only cause you to fail, but it can be damaging to your self-esteem. People may think that if they lose 10 pounds or pay off their loans their entire life will change. When it doesn’t, it can lead to discouragement and cause them to fall back to old habits.
If you’re not ready to change your bad habits to make room for new ones, your unrealistic goals and expectations are going to fail – another year, another unmet resolution.
If you’re serious about your resolution, you have to focus on new behaviours and use them as stepping stones.
Ultimately, don’t take yourself too seriously. After all, there’s always another new year.