New Year, Same Me?
A look into the effectiveness of New Year's resolutions, and the power of now.
2021. What a year, we are already almost a month in and it feels like the holidays were just yesterday. The beginning of this decade (and year for that matter) has been eventful to say the least. With the many challenges we faced and are facing, resilience is more important than ever. Often times, people try to build up their resilience at the beginning of the year via New Year's resolutions; whether they realize it is working or not. As we kick our year off right, there are some important questions to address.
Just how well do New Year's resoutions work?
Should I start again even if I already broke mine?
How does a person REALLY change?
To our luck, these questions can be answered with an in depth look at the science behind resolutions and long lasting change.
So how well do resolutions work? Well, according to two studies with varying sample sizes (213 people and 1066 people, respectively); they work about half the time. In fact-more than the resolutions themselves, it is the type of goals that determine how effective the resolutions will be. Approach goals, meaning a goal where something is added or changed, are more effective than avoidance goals. Avoidance goals can look like quitting smoking or something similar. Now, where does restarting a resolution come into play? The science wasn't clear on that so we can look at it intuitively... The only moment we have is NOW. So even if a person broke their resolution it is not too late to restart again; especially considering we are still in the first month of the year.
Last but most certainly not least, how does a person change? Let's take a simple appraoch to a very complex question. People- we are a social species. Due to our overall sociability, a support system greatly helps individuals that have set new goals. A support system may look like a gym buddy that holds you accountable for coming in or it can be a friend that offers to show you healthy recipes. But the most guaranteed way to change is actually readines to change. Once a person has made up their mind, there is not much that can hinder them unless their motivation becomes unreliable. Translating that steadfastness into action is ultimately what to look for in a person that will change.
So no matter who you are or what you deal with, change is possible. It is gritty, relentless and every day you may want to give up but it can happen. And it all starts NOW.
Dr. Love’s Integrative Nutritionist & Lifestyle Medicine Consultant