How not to make Resolutions this year

And just like that, we enter a new year. 

Like a million other people, I did feel the past year just flew by. 

But, you know what makes me happy? The knowledge that it has now been proven scientifically that time flies when you are having fun. 

A bunch of scientists performed experiments where people were made to estimate time elapsed in different situations - when they were given a mundane task, when they were made to feel happy, when they were made to feel sad, when they were listening to a good song, etc. And without doubt, they proved that time indeed is a psychological construct, heavily influenced by hedonism or the pleasure we feel.

In other words, if you felt the year just flew by, take solace in the fact that this means, you had a fun year! 

With that out of way, how is the new year looking to you?

Are you making resolutions?

Here's a little truth about new year resolutions that you should know. 

We are all victims of what we call the Fresh Start Effect. This dictates our mind to erase past relegations on temporally significant days - new year, new week, new semester, first day at new job. 

We define our lives as before and after that date. What happened in the last year, was the handwork of my past self. This year, I am new.

Katherine Millman, a behavioural economist conducted research and found that a staggering 82% of Google searches for the word "diet" happen in the first week of the year. Gym attendance peaks in January.

In other words, our mind sincerely believes that we are new people in the new year.

But, why do we think we can change overnight? False Hope Syndrome. We overestimate our ability to make changes happen. We underestimate the time and effort required in the change. And we exaggerate how much the change will effect us.

For instance, I will keep fit this year. I will exercise everyday for 1 hour. I will definitely manage to do this and feel good. 

Wrong, wrong and wrong.

Because when the time comes, you will realize that you underestimated how tiring it is to exercise. You also underestimated how lazy you will feel at that moment when you have to run. And of course, overestimated the amount of free time you have.

So, should you make resolutions? Definitely.

But here are ways to make your resolutions that actually stick. Start on 3rd Jan. Takes the pressure off trying to live up to the hype of a new start. Or even better, start on 11th Feb. It is as far away from an conspicuous date as possible.

Make small resolutions that are doable, relatable and you know you can stick to. "I will exercise twice a week."

And lastly, think of contingencies. Implementation intentions are higher when you know that the fallback has been thought through. "If I feel lazy, I will walk around the room twice, till I feel up for the task."

In other words, trick your mind into keeping resolutions.

Or, you could always say, you will not fall to the notions of virtuous behaviour.





My resolution? Clearly, to write more!

Happy new year! 

Cheers
Preeks


Sources: 
Fresh Start Syndrome - https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2204126
False Hope Syndrome - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12237978


Comments

  1. "But, why do we think we can change overnight? False Hope Syndrome. We overestimate our ability to make changes happen. We underestimate the time and effort required in the change. And we exaggerate how much the change will effect us." - I must keep these lines in my mind every time I make plans. So true and practical. And also, I must make a resolution to start writing this year. Looking forward to reading more from you. Cheers to 2018!

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    1. Thank you, Ajay! Been long since I heard from you! Happy to see you here.. :)

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  2. I am all for overnight changes. Not a new year necessarily - but any new day. Also, I love the idea of 3rd Jan - but I prefer starting something like mid December - that way, I am too happy to notice if I break the resolve.
    In any case, resolutions or not I am a total victim of the fresh start syndrome, because there is just so much cheer and joy and happiness in the air! So, yay!
    Happy new year to you :D

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    1. Haha, I agree. Too much freshness in the air! Happy new year! :D

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  3. I totally agree with you on this Preeks!! Small incremental changes in self over a long period of time makes a large impact!!! That is my goal for the year ahead! I hope I would make it!! Happy new year!! Wishing you an awesome year ahead!!

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    1. Thanks Paati! Happy new year to you too! :)

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