New Year’s Resolutions Aren’t Helpful. Try This Instead.

New Year’s Resolutions Aren’t Helpful. Try This Instead.

via Psychology Today by Noam Shpancer

New Year’s resolutions are notoriously useless. Promises of change made to oneself on New Year’s Eve quickly and routinely dissolve into dithering, failure, and regret.

There are multiple reasons for this pattern of failure. But an important meta-reason is probably this: Real personal change comes from real conviction, and real conviction emerges from real learning—a process in which new knowledge leads to seeing new things, or to seeing old things with new eyes. Real learning is strongly experiential; it tends to emerge organically from personally meaningful life events, encounters, and circumstances. You read and understand the book. You meet and get to know the person. You are fired from your job and must find another.

New Yea’s Eve is a generic cultural marker, helpful in noting the passage of time and the cyclical nature of things, but lacking, for most people, any deep personal resonance. Personal change doesn’t adhere to a generic schedule. A number switch on the calendar is a weak signal, socially and personally, and is not a sufficiently powerful experience or intervention to motivate such change.

January 1st is, practically speaking, just another day in your life. There is no inherent reason to assume that the process of learning and building up conviction for action will mature on that date as opposed to any other. And most often, it doesn’t. Nor is there reason to assume that your environment will change radically on that date in a manner that will necessitate adjustment. And most often, it doesn’t.

New Year’s resolutions are thus, as a rule, a waste of time, which is ironic, given that the unrelenting and one-directional passage of time is what the day highlights. In fact, making such resolutions is, if anything, counterproductive.

This is because it’s counterproductive to get in the habit of breaking promises you make to those you care about. And you, presumably, are one of those. A habit of repeatedly breaking your own word cheapens it, and experiencing self-inflicted failure lowers your self-efficacy—the belief that one can perform novel or difficult tasks and attain desired outcomes. Low self-efficacy then becomes its own barrier to change.

A better approach may borrow an insight from research in positive psychology about the concept of “strength intervention.

… keep reading the full & original article HERE for more health and happiness in 2020