Making New Year’s Resolutions Last


Photo from Matt Madd via Flickr under Creative Commons license

Keeping yourself relaxed and down to earth is a great way to achieve the “New Me” for the new year.

Grace Drawdy , Editor-in-Chief

     “New Year, New Me” is a common phrase almost everyone lives by, but not many people succeed in finding and achieving their “NEW ME”. It’s an understood concept that when the clock strikes 12 on New Years’ Day, it is time for you to become a completely new and improved person. Change isn’t an easy task for most people. The idea that you can become a completely new person is a huge misconception in society.  Without proper knowledge concerning resolutions, it becomes more difficult to stick to them.

     Ray Williams wrote in Psychology Today magazine, “Making resolutions work involves changing behaviors — and in order to change a behavior, you have to change your thinking (or “rewire” your brain). Brain scientists, such as Antonio Damasio, Joseph LeDoux, and psychotherapist Stephen Hayes, have discovered, through the use of MRIs, that habitual behavior is created by thinking patterns that create neural pathways and memories, which become the default basis for your behavior when you’re faced with a choice or decision. Trying to change that default thinking by “not trying to do it” in effect just strengthens it. Change requires creating new neural pathways from new thinking.”

     Clearly, if you want a “new me”, it will involve changing your current way of thinking. There is much debate on what is required to form a new habit so the brain can be “rewired” and new habits can form and outward goals can be achieved.

     Gabriella Taylor, who blogs for The Huffington post, writes “Many people are actually more comfortable in hoping and fantasizing than actually making changes that will create lasting change. It takes a certain level of maturity and mastery to be willing to survey the landscape around us before we begin building our dreams.”

     This makes it easy to understand why so many New Year’s resolutions fail. If an individual doesn’t have the emotional maturity to understand their environment and assess themselves accurately, they are likely to fail.

     According to The New York Times, half of all resolutions fail. It takes time and commitment to break a habit or change something about oneself. Making a change for the new year isn’t sufficient enough to form a new habit or “rewire” the brain. 

     Gabriella Taylor from The Huffington Post outlines 3 simple ideas that can help make New Year’s Resolutions more successful.

  1.  Reflection on Past Growth.  This requires some attention to yourself and some self-assessment. This is the time where a person would take a personal inventory of their successes and failures.
  2.  Survey the Inner Landscape. In this phase, an individual would assess behaviors that could potentially undermine their success.  They would assess their inner conversation and self-talk. It would also be a time where an individual would note if any inner personal work needs to be done.
  3.  Survey Outer Landscape-This step allows a person to assess the obstacles in their environment that could potentially stand in the way of their brain “rewiring” and inhibit their success.

     New Year’s Resolutions are a very popular topic during every new year. While many people have good intentions, success involves more than a great idea and a few hopes and dreams.  There are steps we can all consider that are helpful to creating behavioral change and ultimately a successful New Year’s Resolution(s).