The end of a year is both a period of revising and the most favorable time for drafting wishes for the upcoming year. However, the problem arises when we realise that last year’s resolutions have remained unfulfilled in the absence of a concrete plan.
Psychologists say that in order to be fulfilled, New Year’s resolutions must be carefully thought through and formulated in such a way as to enable one to act in order to meet one’s expectations. The desire to have something must lead one to the will to act, and this must lead to the formulation of a specific action plan. Psychology gives us some advice to increase the chances of our New Year’s resolutions being fulfilled.
Susan Clayton, a psychology PhD and professor at Wooster College, offers a list of five tips for those who want to make the right resolutions.
- Be specific. General statements, such as “I want to be healthier”, do not serve the purpose. Instead, saying what you want as specifically as possible is the right approach. Clayton proposes focusing on changing the behaviour that leads to this goal. For instance, in order to become healthy, one must choose to walk more instead of using the car or decide to eat at least one fresh fruit or vegetable per meal instead of potatoes or bread.
- Make your decision public and surround yourself with people who have the same goals. Let your friends or family know, write your goal in a visible place, or post your intention on social media. Weight control programs like Weight Watchers are very successful precisely because people benefit from the psychological support of others who are interested in a healthy lifestyle or those who have already implemented it.
- Accept the help of those around you. In the absence of the support of those close to you or in the absence of the people themselves, look for an online group to help you keep your focus on achieving your goal.
- Examine your situation. Are your workplace, your home, and your family factors that favour the changes you are going to make or not? Analyse and evaluate possible obstacles that you may encounter so that you can prevent them as much as possible.
- Establish a reward system. Give yourself a reward for sticking to your plan. If you manage to walk for a month, every day, instead of using the car, celebrate with your friends or family. But do not overdo it so that your efforts are not in vain.
Furthermore, an effective resolution must have seven characteristics, says Meg Selig, in her book “Changepower! 37 Secrets to Habit Change Success”. Therefore, a resolution is effective if:
- You are the one who made the decision to change, not the doctor, your life partner, or someone else.
- You made the decision deliberately and consciously.
- You made the decision for a reason that is important to you. This is what motivates you.
- You made this decision because you wanted to, not because you felt it would be good.
- You wrote it in a visible place.
- You told someone about it, which increased the degree of commitment.
- Your resolution is clear enough to assess whether or not you have met it.
Moreover, any plan must be based on prior documentation, it must take into account advantages and disadvantages, and must be made up of baby steps.