New Year, New… Me?

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Savannah Garrison

Everyone is ready to ring in the new year, but not so much their resolutions… (Photo courtesy of Savannah Garrison).

We all say “New Year, New Me”… but do we really do our resolutions? In a study by Forbes, Ashira Prossack said “less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them”. But, why is this? The answer is simple; we aren’t getting rid of our old habits.

“I think they only work when people continue to have a focus on their goal and commit to the smaller parts of their goal,” said senior Emily Beddingfield. When people lose focus of their goals, get distracted, or get ‘too busy’, they tend to give up their goals. 

Psychology Today states that there are two different factors as to why New Year’s Resolutions don’t work. “There’s two main lines of brain and behavior science that influence New Year’s resolutions: The science of habits and the science of self-stories”. The science of habits is the study of how we create everyday habits subconsciously and how we can change them; whereas, the science of self-stories are habits based upon your past life.

The New Year is a time for breaking and making habits. But how do these so-called “habits” come to be? NPR says “every habit starts with a psychological pattern called a “habit loop”…and a habit loop consists of three things: the first stimulus, the second stimulus, and the response. The first stimulus is the item being triggered, the second stimulus is the trigger, and the response is, well, the response. When you have something, for example a motive, you have to have a trigger in order to get a response. Without the trigger, you don’t have a tangible goal. 

“For you to actually commit to something you have to have some serious motivation,” said sophomore Nate Sanders. Sanders is correct when he says you have to have serious motivation to do resolutions, because if you don’t you won’t stay on track.

All of these habits and explanations relate to New Year’s because you can’t have a resolution unless you break old habits, which most people don’t realize. So, in order to have an actual resolution, you need to understand the three steps of breaking and creating new habits.

“I think that [resolutions] can be made during the year; if you feel like you have to do something different then just do it,” said sophomore Jaimee Smith. Most people believe that to have a New Year’s Resolution it has to be on the first day of the year, but you can really do it whenever you feel!

According to The Learning Center, the first step to creating a new habit is cue. The cue is the trigger. In this website, they use Instagram as an example. The cue would be getting a notification on your phone from Instagram. The second step is routine. This is the actual action being done. In the example, they say the action is going to the Instagram app. And the last step is the reward, which is the benefit that you gain from doing the trained action or behaviour. In this case, the reward is seeing someone liked your post, comment, texted, etc. 

“When you have a whole year as your time to improve, it becomes easier to procrastinate,” said junior Connor Martinez. Procrastination can undoubtedly eradicate your motivation for doing your resolutions, so that’s why making them habits are so important for following through. 

Some people may find it easy to follow this routine to create new habits, but they may get easily distracted. How do they keep from getting distracted and losing sight of their goal? In LifeHack’s article, they have 7 steps to keep you from getting off task. Ugh, more steps?! It’s actually not that difficult! There are seven steps:

1. Pick one thing. Picking one aspect of your life to change is often easier to deal with than multitasking with multiple resolutions plus your everyday schedule.

2. Plan ahead. When you plan ahead you can get a greater view of what you can do and what you have to change to achieve your goals. It also gives you a better idea of what you’re getting yourself into (i.e. cut down on artificial sugars, you read up on the average daily intake of the sugars so you know what to change in your diet).

3. Anticipate problems. There will always be a bump in the road and obstacles that you need to take into account. When you have identified problems that most likely will occur, you can find ways to handle them once they come up.

4. Pick a day to start. You don’t have to start right on New Year’s day (come on, who will have the energy to start after partying all night?!), but it is a good idea to what what you’re going to change and when you’re going to change it.

5. Start the change and create a motivation card. When you start the change, you are naturally going to need some type of motivation, whether it be a simple sticky note or a reminder on your phone to keep going.

6. Accept that it’s alright to fail. It is perfectly okay to miss a day or two, as long as it’s not constant. When you miss a day, you should take note what what triggered you to miss it (i.e. accidentally eating too many cookies with artificial sugars).

7. Plan rewards. As all patterns you have read, you are always going to need a reward. Your brain won’t set the whole cycle up if you don’t have a ‘prize’ at the end of the process.

In the end, New Year’s Resolutions are not pointless but they can be difficult to follow through with. As long as you are committed to your goals and continue with new habit making, you’ll start the year off on the right foot!