Ticked much off your to-do list?

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Photo by mt 23

As the London Eye set the sky alight with a multitude of colours, many cast their minds to deciding on their resolutions for 2012.

An iconic New Year’s Resolutions image for me is that of Bridget Jones starting her new journal and making a list of her aims for the coming year. The film then, of course, goes on to show her do the complete opposite breaking all of her resolutions one by one. But it seems Bridget is not alone when it comes to poor willpower and dedication to that to-do list.

Studies show that by the 7th of January, 20% of those who made resolutions fell back into bad habits. But why and where do people go so wrong so quickly? If so many of us are doomed to break our resolutions, why do we bother with them at all?

There’s almost a romantic appeal to a New Year; the renewed commitment to a goal and potential achievement. We make resolutions as a means of focusing on something new after Christmas giving us an aim to avoid the ‘January blues.’ Setting goals allows us an opportunity to reflect on the previous year; what went wrong, our faults and how we can better the next year.

This ‘new year, new start’ mentality is fuelled by the desire to achieve something worthwhile with the hope that this year will make us feel better about the shortcomings of the preceding one.

But now, over three weeks into 2012 how many of us have maintained our resolutions? 85% of us will have caved in by the end of the month, and come June only 4% of us will have maintained some degree of willpower. Perhaps this is because the proposal of New Year’s Resolutions are far more idealistic that their reality, acting as a rebound from the previous year.

For those who have managed to maintain some determination to uphold your resolutions yet require further motivation, Personal Coach James Lynch uses the following anecdote: “you don’t buy a plane ticket without saying where you’re leaving.” I.e. you need to assess the faults of last year or your current situation in order to decide where you want to go and what you want to change. He adds: “we should commit to something small that is certain to benefit us,” such as keeping up-to-date with seminar prep, making more of an effort with old school friends during term-time or go to the gym more often. He suggests keeping lists both for inspiration of resolutions, and to ensure our lasting commitment.

Finally Lynch advocates sharing a resolution with another; keeping a note of goals acts as a reminder but sharing something with someone means you’re committed to another and not just yourself.

So with this in mind, what do you want to do this year? What is left undone from the previous? Doing something that you want to do rather than something you feel you should do will help you to resolve the faults and shortcomings of 2011, living up to the true meaning of a resolution to make for a hopefully successful 2012.

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