Prya Oliveira, Staff Writer
“New year, new me” is the saying that a lot of people use when it comes to entering a new year. We make plans to achieve both long and short-term goals. The most popular resolution has to do with fitness, such as losing weight or getting stronger. But if New Year’s resolutions are so easy to make, why are they even easier to fail?
The new year is often seen as a fresh start; a clean slate to make big changes in your life. Ramit Sethi, a New York Times bestselling author, gives a few answers as to why these resolutions fail—mainly that they aren’t specific or realistic and the majority of the time they’re based on willpower and not systems. If the same resolutions are being set every year because they aren’t being achieved, that shows that there needs to be a change made to the goal itself. Sethi says, “we would rather continue doing something that doesn’t work than try something new that could work- but also could fail.” He says that in order for goals to be achieved, they need to be set with a certain system and plan, and they need to adjust if they are not reached within the time that you have set for it.
Sethi lays out a goal plan called “SMART,” which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-oriented. To put it in simpler terms, SMART is understanding exactly what your goal is and what you want the outcome to be, what success looks like, what resources might be needed, if it is a priority in your life to achieve this, and what your deadline is. Sethi posted on his Facebook asking how people felt after not doing something that they claimed they were going to do. Almost all of the comments responded with a reply along the lines of users feeling disappointed in themselves, eventually creating a combination of anxiety and self-pity. Sethi says that directly planning out resolutions leads to a higher success rate because the steps are clearly laid out and the fear of failure will be greater with the amount of planning that is put in.
According to U.S. News & World Report, 80 percent New Year’s resolutions fail by February, with 55 percent being health related and 20 percent having to do with finances, like trying to get out of debt (which is a huge goal for college graduates). Peter Herman, a psychology professor, says that people create “false hope syndrome,” meaning that their resolutions are significantly “unrealistic and out of alignment with their internal view of themselves.” Herman connects to Sethi’s claim about how resolutions should always be realistic and specific. Herman says that changing a small percentage of your habits require a huge amount of motivation, which people often lack and that is what leads to breaking resolutions.
The limits and restrictions that are set with resolutions can lead to setbacks in achieving these goals because of the expectations that are held within them. Psychologists at the American Psychology Association explain the importance of recognizing that there will always be set-backs, no matter how big or how small the goal is. The trick is to adjust certain goals to make it easier for them to be achieved. They also touch on how important it is to have support, because when it is hard to find the motivation in yourself, it is easy to lean on those around you. Researchers at the University of Scranton found that 8 percent of people do achieve their New Year’s goals, and maybe with a little self-reflection, you can be apart of that percentage this year.