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Before we know it Christmas is over for another year and January passes in the blink of an eye. Like every other year, we list our New Year’s resolutions in our new notebooks and diaries we got for Christmas, determined to make this year better than the last. The generic hopes of losing weight, joining the gym, ‘trying something new’ (whatever that means) spring to mind, and as we write down each resolution we smile at ourselves with a glow of self-satisfaction. However, it seems that the determination to change and become a better person is often very much short-lived, as many studies show that around 75-85% of people who make New Year’s resolutions fail to keep them. So why do we bother? And what are we doing wrong?
New Year has always carried this added pressure to turn over a new leaf. Even without the New Year we are under pressure to look good, eat healthy and have the perfect lifestyle, although most of the time we just choose to ignore it. Yet for some reason when the 1st January arrives, we genuinely believe that we can make those much needed improvements to our lives. So we fill the shopping trolley with salad and Nicorette patches, join a gym and make the effort to call the parents every day all because we are getting into the spirit of the ‘New Year, new you’ fallacy. We bother with it because we genuinely do want to lead better lives, but obviously there is still something that we’re doing wrong.
A recent article from The Independent revealed the top 10 New Year’s resolutions for 2013. Among them included: ‘save more money’ at the top of the list; ‘lose weight/get fit’ was at number 3, ‘quit smoking’ and ‘give up alcohol’ were at numbers 5 and 6, and the most unfeasible of them all- ‘give up chocolate’ at number 9. They are all pretty generic. However, it is highly likely that the reason that so many people fail to keep these resolutions is that they are simply too ambitious! Consider, for example, ‘give up alcohol’, ‘give up chocolate’, and ‘quit smoking’. The human body can only take so much ‘giving up’; a better phrase to use could be ‘cut down’. Who, in their right mind would completely give up alcohol and chocolate anyway? We need a treat now and again! As with ‘save money’ and ‘get fit’, that’s all very well and good but you need to work out how you intend to do it. Give yourself small goals to reach for like doing a certain amount of exercise per week or resisting that coffee from Greggs every so often to save a bit of money. It’s all the little things that will help.
By putting too much pressure on ourselves to achieve the (almost) impossible, we won’t get anywhere. By the time you read this I highly doubt that many of your resolutions are still being kept, you’ve probably had a glass of wine, eaten cake for a friend’s birthday and been to the gym…twice. It’s still January though so you still have time to rectify the problems and instead aim for smaller and more feasible goals. With dissertation and coursework deadlines looming, volunteer placements on the go and perhaps job interviews for next year in full flow, we can’t be too hard on ourselves. So consider what you want to achieve this year, not what the rest of the world is doing. But, most of all just enjoy the opportunities that 2013 happens to throw in your direction!