According to the University of Scranton school of Psychology near 45% of Americans usually create a New Year’s Resolution with 38% of the population never making them. I for one am a part of that 45% that make a resolution each year. The most common resolution is to lose weight. Of the 45% that make a resolution only 39% of people under the age of 50 actually complete their resolution. Within one month nearly 40% of the people that made a resolution have already failed. Below are ten tips from various psychologists and research centers on creating a New Year’s Resolution that you can keep.
Why do we fail?
By the time you read this article nearly 25% of the people who made a New Year’s resolution may have already broken it. Now why do we break these resolutions? According to Troy Campbell of the University of Oregon it all comes down to a lack of sleep. He states that with a lack of sleep we lack self control and will give into temptation to break our resolution. “When you’re tired you lack the self-control to eat healthy and the focus to be productive,” said Dr. David Wagner, a sleep expert at the University of Oregon’s Lundquist College of Business. Really? Come on, that cannot be the answer.
Psychology professor Peter Herman from Carleton University in Canada and his colleagues have identified what they call the "false hope syndrome," which means their resolution is significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with their internal view of themselves. To me this sounds more likely. The other aspect of failed resolutions lies in the cause and effect relationship. You may think that if you lose weight, or reduce your debts, or exercise more, your entire life will change, and when it doesn't, you may get discouraged and then you revert back to old behaviors. Wow! This sounds even more likely than the sleep answer provided from the University of Oregon.
Peter Bregman, writing in the Harvard Business Review Blog Network, states “When we set goals, we're taught to make them specific and measurable and time-bound. But it turns out that those characteristics are precisely the reasons goals can backfire. A specific, measurable, time-bound goal drives behavior that's narrowly focused and often leads to either cheating or myopia. Yes, we often reach the goal, but at what cost?”
Peter goes on to say the following about resolutions, “An area of focus taps into your intrinsic motivation, offers no stimulus or incentive to cheat or take unnecessary risks, leaves every positive possibility and opportunity open, and encourages collaboration while reducing corrosive competiton. All this while moving forward on the things you and your organization value most.” So what can we do to not fail?
1. Pick one specific thing
Creating multiple resolutions only increases the chances that none of them will be met. Instead choose one specific thing. Beating your entire backlog isn’t specific but beating five of the games you purchased in 2016 is.
2. Be realistic
Saying you are going to 100% every game you buy this calendar year isn’t realistic unless you only buy one or two games a year. Creating Brink 2 isn’t a realistic resolution but driving Mr. McSpicey crazy by creating a fake website and tricking him into thinking it is coming out is realistic.
3. Break it up into small pieces
Break your resolution up into small attainable pieces. People often quit because the resolution as a whole may be overwhelming but by breaking it down it becomes easier to complete.
4. Reward Success
Give yourself a small success to begin the year and reward yourself with each success afterwards. I love gummy bears so each time I complete a piece of my resolution I am going to go buy some gummy bears (best idea ever). By finding small things to measure success by you will see yourself actually meeting your resolution.
5. Share Your Resolution
Sharing your resolution is great way to hold yourself accountable. If you are out there telling other people about your resolution you don’t want to be embarrassed when two weeks have gone by and they ask about it and you say “Oh, that, yeah I stopped trying.”
6. Find an Accountability Buddy
Trying to change habits on your own can be difficult. For instance, if you and your partner both get stuck playing Rocket League 24/7, it is really hard for one person to change their habit if the other is still stuck playing Rocket League. Finding someone to work with on your resolution, such as playing other games besides Rocket League, the chances of success will improve.
7. Focus on the Present
What's the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your goal? Forget about what you have to do tomorrow to meet your goal. What do you need to do today?
8. Think Positive
You are bound to run into a stumbling block on the way to meeting your resolution. The key to getting past the roadblock is to think of the small successes you have had up to this point in time. Pessimists are so used to being negative that they don't realize it's a habit. And they don't realize it's a choice. Choose to think positive.
9. Don’t Limit Yourself
Accept lapses as part of the process. It’s inevitable that when trying to give up something. If you mess up on your resolution, don’t quit. Think of it is a fork in the road. You can continue down the wrong fork or realize that eventually the bad fork with fork again and meet up with the correct path you should be on.
10. Don’t wait until next year to start
If the resolution you are creating really is important to you why wait to start? Start your resolution today even if it isn’t the beginning of the year anymore.
What are you waiting for?
If you think this all sounds like too much hard work and that it’s not worth making resolutions to begin with, bear in mind that people who make New Year’s resolutions are ten times more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t.
As for me, my New Year’s gaming resolution is the following:
During 2017 I will complete one game each month from games that I purchased (this doesn’t include games given to me or games “bought” through Games with Gold or EA Access”) prior to the start of 2017. This will result in completing twelve games from my purchased backlog over the next calendar year. After completing each game I will reward myself with a bag of gummy bears.
What is your New Year’s Gaming resolution? If you comment below with your resolution I will keep track of it. On a near monthly basis I will reach out to each person for an update on their resolution. Good luck with your resolution!
Author Ben Gooding
Some say he likes to eat both the right and left Twix. Some say his favorite Star Wars movie is A Phantom Menace. All we know is we call him Zoolabus. You can follow him on Twitter @TheZoolabus, on Xbox @Zoolabus and his adorable dog on Instagram @ScarlettMaeCav.