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?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: SThree have recently been awa...

SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

£20000 - £21000 per annum + uncapped commission: SThree: As a graduate you are...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate / Junior Software Developer

£24000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Graduate/Junior Software Deve...

Independent Dating

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

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot