Want to actually stick to those resolutions this year?

 

My favourite part of the New Year’s holiday is New Year’s Day. The glitz, glamour and extortionate prices of the night before are easily forgotten after 24 hours of laziness, good food and laying in bed looking forward to the upcoming year. It’s traditionally been the last week of slovenliness before we head back to school, sixth form and now university.

And, despite my Twitter timeline being filled with tweets condemning anyone who dares utter ‘new year, new me’, I’m a sucker for the ‘turning over a new leaf’ part of the festive period. While I’m not quite naïve enough to think the chime of a new year will transform me into a new person, or that 2013 will be filled with all good things, I like that I get a chance to think about what I want to achieve in the upcoming year and that it feels like a fresh slate to do it – particularly as this year I’m graduating and entering the ‘real world’.

The failure of New Year’s resolutions is so common that many are made in jest - with little intention of upkeep. As we are now well in to January, a large majority of you probably haven’t gone to the gym this week, haven’t changed your eating habits and definitely haven’t faced the pile of coursework in the corner.

So, instead of getting gloomy and resigning yourself to 2012’s habits, get realistic. It’s inane to think that somewhere in-between the switch from the 31 December to the 1 January, your motivation will spike and all will fall into place. According to statistics from Statistic Brain, only 8 per cent of the US population manages to successfully achieve their New Year’s resolution - if it were easy, you would have already done it.

Author of ‘How to Be Sick’, the self-help and psychology guru Toni Bernhard, says “the reason that people aren't able to keep New Year's resolutions is that they're really wishes as opposed to true resolves."

"They'd be better called 'New Years Wishes': I wish I could lose weight. I wish I'd stop eating junk food. I wish I'd stop smoking," she adds.

“A wish is something you hope for and is hardly worth the paper it's written on. But a resolve is completely different. It's a decision we make about our lives and, because of that it has life-changing consequences. It's a decision to follow a course of action as opposed to simply a wish that we would do so. We make the decision because we think it’s crucial to change our lives in this particular manner. We believe that we'll be better off or our loved ones will be - emotionally, health-wise, etc. Think about legislative bodies. Their members don't propose 'a wish'. But they do propose 'resolutions' and if they pass, they're binding!”

So instead of looking at your promises as things you would love to happen, start thinking about how you can change your lifestyle to fit them in. And if after reflecting, you’re not so sure you want the downsides of your new resolution, it’s probably better left as a wish for the time being.

The same resolutions are repeated year in, year out. Lose a stone, stop eating rubbish, save money, stop smoking. But make them realistic. If you want to lose weight, try and incorporate a workout regime and a healthy eating plan into your lifestyle, plan when you are going to go, get rid of ‘bad’ foods and prepare in advance. Preparation is key – you can’t transform your eating habits when you have a fridge full of Christmas and New Year party food leftovers. Basically, rather than just wanting something to happen, make it happen – planning, downsides, sacrifices and all.

“The tip to keeping a New Year's Resolution is to not bother making it if it's just a wish,” Toni continues. “Ask yourself, 'Is this something I'm hoping for, or is this something I'm making a decision about in my life, a decision that is so firm that I'm willing to deal with the consequences even if they're a challenge and even if they're unpleasant?'"

Psychologist Leslie Becker suggests asking yourself some questions about your resolution to make sure you aren’t setting yourself up for failure, including: Is your goal realistic? Are you giving yourself enough time? Are you prepared for the effort?

So, if you’re someone who’s lecture attendance is bad, resolve to only miss one a week, maximum. If you go out four times a week, resolve to cut that by half. Spend too much time in Topshop? Limit yourself to a budget and treat yourself at the end of the month. Don’t wish to stop shopping but wander past anyway, and don’t dramatically decide to chop all your trips – it will only result in an embarrassing shopping-binge (yes, it’s a real thing).

Toni urges you not to be hard on yourself: “I would only add that if someone makes a resolution and doesn't keep it that they not judge themselves negatively about it. Just say, ‘Ah well, I thought it was a resolution but it turned out to be a wish. That's okay. No blame. Maybe some day soon, I'll be able to truly make this a resolution’”.

And if you fancy resolving to do something different, take pointers from Mashable.com, which compiled some of the weirdest New Year’s resolutions on Twitter:

  • “Never ask my drug dealer how her life has been recently unless I have an hour to spend hearing about it”.
  • “Clean my sex toys every day.”
  • “Sew sequins on to every piece of clothing I own.”
  • “Leave my dog alone”.

Well, each to their own.

Lauren Cope is a final-year law student at UEA. Follow her on Twitter at @laurenjcope

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Guru Careers: Graduate Marketing Executive / Marketing Assistant

£18 - 23k (DOE): Guru Careers: A Graduate Marketing Executive / Assistant is n...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading provider to the fa...

Ashdown Group: Graduate IT Analyst - Global ERP Implementation - London

£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful & reputable global business is l...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate