Aleteia logoAleteia logo
Aleteia
Friday 17 September |
Saint of the Day: St. Hildegard of Bingen
home iconLifestyle
line break icon

Simple science can help you keep your New Year’s resolutions

NEW YEARS RESOLUTION

Shutterstock

Daniel Esparza - published on 12/21/17

This principle also applies to personal finances and helps you build a virtuous cycle.

It’s no surprise more than half of all New Year resolutions end in failure. The reason this is the case, far from being rocket science, is pretty straightforward: When thinking and planning for the coming year, most of us choose the wrong resolution.

The good news is, wrong resolutions are easy to identify. It’s often the case that we commit ourselves to changing something we really don’t want to change, or to do something we really don’t want to do, but we think we should commit to because it “seems right.” If you prefer Tai-Chi over running, don’t sign up for the next 10k race just because everyone else looks great in their jogging outfits.

But the real complications emerge, psychologists affirm, when we aim for ambiguous and non-realistic goals. Phrases like “I’ll lose weight next year,” “I’ll make more money,” “I’ll be more active,” “I’ll travel more,” “I’ll be more kind,” “I’ll pay my debts” are simply too vague to be measurable. And if they’re not measurable, there’s really no way we can set up any kind of plans for achieving them.

This is a cliché, but it works: Just as specialists in personal finances recommend that you not set goals that are too big to achieve (“I’m going to invest $1,00o a month on stocks this year!”), the same principle applies to almost everything else. This is what economists and psychologists commonly refer to as the “snowball effect.” Even if at first the goals you set might look insignificant (“I’m going to save an extra $50 a month”), the process builds upon itself, and it becomes larger and larger (“Whoa, saving those $50 was easy. I’ll aim for $100”).

It’s easy to see how the “snowball” works. A virtuous circle (just like a vicious one) implies the rolling of a snowball down a snow-covered hillside. You have seen this in cartoons a billion times. As it rolls downhill, the ball picks up more snow and momentum. By June, you find yourself already making your resolutions happen.

The key to get the (snow)ball rolling in the first place is simple: instead of only saying “I will be more kind,” set a specific goal: “I will be kinder to this person in particular, and will make sure to say one nice thing to that person on a daily basis.” Instead of saying “I will lose weight next year,” aim for “I’ll lose these many pounds in the next three months.” That’s more realistic, effective and, most importantly, frustration-free. Also, it works.

Tags:
Personal Growth

Support Aleteia!

If you’re reading this article, it’s thanks to the generosity of people like you, who have made Aleteia possible.

Here are some numbers:

  • 20 million users around the world read Aleteia.org every month
  • Aleteia is published every day in seven languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, and Slovenian
  • Each month, readers view more than 50 million pages
  • Nearly 4 million people follow Aleteia on social media
  • Each month, we publish 2,450 articles and around 40 videos
  • We have 60 full time staff and approximately 400 collaborators (writers, translators, photographers, etc.)

As you can imagine, these numbers represent a lot of work. We need you.

Support Aleteia with as little as $1. It only takes a minute. Thank you!

Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
1
CELEBRITIES
Cerith Gardiner
Our favorite stories of celebrities who inspire us in daily life
2
communion
Philip Kosloski
How receiving Holy Communion can drive away demons
3
Kathleen N. Hattrup
Pope considers what to do with pro-abortion Catholic politicians
4
Berthe and Marcel
Lauriane Vofo Kana
This couple has the longest marriage in France
5
As irmãs biológicas que se tornaram freiras no instituto Iesu Communio
Francisco Veneto
The 5 biological sisters who joined the religious life in just tw...
6
CROSS
Philip Kosloski
Why is the feast of the Holy Cross celebrated on September 14?
7
SAINT ANTHONY OF PADUA
Philip Kosloski
This prayer to St. Anthony is said to have “never been known to f...
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.