January 1 marks new beginnings, giving us a chance to leave any regrets in 2017 and silence the inner demons with some fanciful New Year’s resolutions.
The annual vindication has gone on for thousands of years, with the ancient Babylonians thought to have been the first to put pen to paper…or stylus to clay tablet?
Despite the tradition’s religious roots, New Year’s resolutions today are a mostly secular practice. Instead of making promises to the gods, most people make resolutions only to themselves, and focus purely on self-improvement…which potentially explains why they’re so hard to keep.
Bridget Jones probably made the most famous new year’s resolution ever…
As it turns out, this tradition may not be so useful for us, with psychoanalyst Steve McKeown hailing it the 'catalyst to failure'.
McKeown, founder of MindFixers and owner of The McKeown Clinic, told UNILAD:
New year's resolutions occur every year after the feast of Christmas and New Year Eve celebrations. The problem is this sets the catalyst to failure. You can't go from 100mph to 0mph overnight.
Feast to famine! Expectations are high and unrealistic. From diets to stopping smoking, to signing up to an expensive gym membership, burning a hole only in your pocket to have failed miserably in the end - 92% of people fail by February.
This is simply called holiday remorse. It's a guilt driven reaction we create to over excess of food and drink, becoming the impetus for those new year's resolutions and unrealistic desires.
When the Christmas period begins, which is much earlier these days, we neglect all normal rationing and adopt a free for all type of indulgence - with our stomachs bursting we tend to sleep well through a self-induced coma, with rationalisation when the new year arrives, we're going to achieve our goals and get healthy. Not!
This is a disastrous road to failure.
Every time we fail, we create what is known as repetitive failure.
When we repeatedly fail this failure simply produces further failure, due to decreased expectations on future attempts, which in turn, produces motivational deficits which translate into weaker efforts.
For every failure there's a decrease in self esteem and an increase in self loathing, which in turn, creates a sense of powerlessness to make personal change, resulting in a never ending spiral of despair.
The negative cycles we create year-on-year mean New Year's resolutions are more of a plan to fail than anything particularly useful.
So what should we do instead of making lists of unrealistic vows? McKeown explains:
Choose a different date to begin your resolution! Don't make it harder than it should be. Feast to famine never works. Start in February.
Think realistic, Think small. Start with smaller goals, allow more time.
Once you gain some inroads with thinking small, you can build on your achievements from then on, building esteem from your increments of success.
So forget the January cold turkey ultimatums with yourself and choose a more gradual and realistic route to your goals.
Have a wonderful 2018 and be better.