As we approach the end of the year and the start of a new one, millions of us around the world tend to take a look at some of the bad habits we have picked up and make a vow to ourselves that this is the year we are going to change them.
And then we never do!
Why is it that New Year’s Resolutions fail within a month of starting them? We always start out with such motivation and conviction, yet start falling at the first post.
Why do we make resolutions at New Year’s?
The tradition of making New Year resolutions has its roots back in Babylonian times. People made pledges to the gods in the faith that their crops would flourish if those pledges were sustained. The Romans carried out similar practices, honoring the two-faced god Janus who looked back to the past and forward to the future.
In 21st-century life, we see the passing of the old year into the arrival of a new one as an opportunity to reassess and re-evaluate our lives – our health, our professional lives, our relationships, our behaviors, and our priorities.
What are typical new year’s resolutions?
Most of us look at changing those annoying, regular habits that we have picked up along the way that are not particularly life-threatening (in the short term anyway) but we know are not doing us any good. Whether it is eating too much, giving up smoking, exercising more, saving money, spending less, or being more organized.
And the one thing that these all have in common is that they are just that – habits. Small, inconsequential things that we do (or don’t do and subsequently berate ourselves) multiple times during the day.
So why do we keep failing?
So why do we keep failing at breaking these habits? Because they are actually habits that we perceive as giving us pleasure, and we are approaching them from a point of ‘denial’. This immediately places us on the back foot when it comes to being successful.
We eat sweets and fast food because they give us momentary pleasure. We have that one cigarette after eating because it gives us pleasure. The momentary pleasure we extract from the habit overrides any strength of conviction or motivation we might have tried to instill in ourselves on the evening of 31st December.
This comes from an instant gratification style of thinking. Thinking beyond the actual pleasure is too far away, too intangible when you’re probably feeling stressed and overwhelmed, and maybe dealing with uncomfortable emotions that you want to run away from, RIGHT NOW!
One of the best ways of dealing with this style of instant gratification thinking is to try and replace one bad habit with a good habit. What this means is that in those moments when you might reach for the cigarette, or jam doughnut, you actually reach for something that gives you equal pleasure and relief.
To replace cigarettes, for example, there is an entire industry that is designed to help you overcome your cigarette addiction by replacing it with something less damaging to your health. Disposable vapes such as the Elf Bar range sells out fast at this time of year as people are stocking up to use them as a replacement. Because they are available in a wide range of delicious flavours, there will always be one to suit every taste.
Small but consistent!
The most important thing is to keep the changes, small, achievable, and consistent. Consistency is key. Making big changes in a small amount of time is unsustainable. Before you know it, it’ll be the 1st of February and you’ll have made those changes without even realizing it!