The good news: Many people have made what seem like some sound, healthy New Year’s resolutions. The bad news: The overwhelming odds are that they won’t keep them. In fact, they can actually be harmful.
There’s a reason most people aren’t already doing those things (e.g., losing weight, getting out of debt, quitting smoking) they think they’ll do if they declare them “resolutions.” Exploring themselves internally to discover why they’re not yet doing them is the key to actually achieving them.
Consider these statistics from a poll conducted in 2020, which analyzed responses from 2,000 Americans. They paint a grim picture of the resolution landscape:
– According to the poll, Feb. 1 is the day the average person calls it quits on their New Year’s resolutions.
– 68% report giving up their resolutions even sooner than that.
– One in seven Americans (almost 15%) never actually believe they’ll even follow through on their resolutions in the first place.
When Sophie Chiche, CEO of becurrent, a company that has developed a unique system for increasing productivity, weighed 350 pounds, she started many Januarys convinced that this would be the year it would change.
“Each January 1st, I would list all the behaviors I was going to start implementing and all the ones I was going to discontinue,” said Chiche, who wrote a book on her weight-loss journey entitled “War and Piece of Cake” which is being turned into a TV series. “I would write them all down, cut out magazines, and make vision boards of the many changes I wanted to see in the next few months. I even gathered other resolution-making friends, and we pledged to each other that this was the year.
“And then, I would do nothing different. And I would be sad and disappointed that nothing had changed. Yet, I would do it again the next year and many after that.”
According to Chiche – who also holds a psychology degree and has extensively studied the topic of New Year’s resolutions – when someone makes a resolution, their psyche registers it as a commitment. When they don’t accomplish it, they record it as a failure. It’s a promise they make to themselves that gets broken over and over.
“What do we think of our friends who keep breaking their promises to us? We don’t trust them,” contends Chiche. “That applies internally as well. When we don’t keep our own word, we lose trust in ourselves.”
As a result, Chiche claims people were actually better off before making their resolutions than they were after. Now, they’ve added being disappointed at themselves when they inevitably drop them. Maybe they make it to January 10th. Or even the end of January (in a good year). But always, disappointment ends up rearing its ugly head. Successfully changing a habit doesn’t start when someone declares their New Year’s resolutions but rather, when they identify and apply kindness to the root cause of not doing it in the first place.
What should be done instead? Chiche, who has appeared as a guest on Good Morning America, Keeping Up with the Kardashians, and Ellen. suggest a little bit of “introspection.” She claims that they make a commitment to discover some reasons as to why they’ve not accomplished the things they believe to be so meaningful that those things ended up on their sacred resolutions list. The culprit can be found in their beliefs – particularly the ones that are incompatible with what they’re trying to change:
– If someone’s resolution is to lose weight, but they use food to numb their feelings of anger or sadness, they first need to find a way to feel their feelings. Otherwise, the resolution can’t be sustained more than a few weeks.
– If their resolution is to make more money, but they have a deep-rooted belief that rich people are all jerks, they first need to reconcile their judgments about people who are well-off. Otherwise, it will be impossible to increase their wealth.
– If their resolution is to quit drinking, but they don’t know how to have fun without alcohol, they first need to explore ways to enjoy life without drinking. Otherwise, the desire to have fun will be stronger than the one to get sober.
Simply put, people might as well not make resolutions at all if they don’t intend to explore the deeper emotional/psychological reasons as to why they weren’t able to resolve any of those things in February through December of last year. Or the year before. Or the one before that.
Chiche’s suggestion? Look deep and get to the root of the issue.
“People need to spend a little time attempting to find the reason that prevents them from making the changes they believe they so desperately want to make,” she said. “Because unless they find a way to be at peace with that unresolved part of themselves, they can make vision boards and resolution-making parties all day long, but they’ll still find themselves at the bottom of the 90% failed resolution bucket.”
However, if someone really need to make resolutions for the year, Sophie suggests this one – that they be kind to themselves. To forgive themselves. To focus on all the good they accomplished in this crazier-than-ever year. Maybe this January, instead of a resolution, people should identify an intention. And make that intention to be an understanding friend to themselves.