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New Year’s resolutions can be hard to keep

Teresa Wang

For many of us, the New Year signifies a new chapter in our journey. The idea of starting off with a blank canvas gives us motivation to pursue change and embrace growth. People make plans to live healthier, save money and strengthen their mental health. And while it is commendable to see their desire to improve, people often underestimate the necessary steps to actually achieve their goals.

According to Fisher College of Business, around 23% of Americans fail to achieve their resolutions by the end of the first week of the year, 43% fail by the end of January and only 9% complete their goals.

Advanced Placement Psychology teacher Christopher Farina said there are three major challenges people face when trying to keep their New Year’s resolutions: entrenched habits, overly ambitious goals and discouraging environments.

Farina said current habits people have built up over time can affect their lifestyle and commitment to goals.

“(One) roadblock could be that the habits that they have currently are just so deeply ingrained that it’s really, really tough to change,” Farina said.

Another reason many people do not keep their resolutions is their goals are too ambitious and broad. Stanford Professor of Organizational Behavior Charles O’Reilly said more precise goals are easier to accomplish.

“Specific, difficult goals that are attainable, realistic and set in a way that you get some feedback about how you’re doing on the goal is the goal-setting literature,” O’Reilly said.

And Farina said restrictive environments and working conditions can make it harder for people to adhere to their goals.

“A third issue is if the environment you’re in isn’t conducive to whatever that goal is,” Farina said.

Freshman Melody Xu said it is difficult to stick with her resolutions because of academic pressure and time constraints.

“I have a lot of honors classes and extracurricular activities that take up a lot of my time,” Xu said. “I often find myself working late into the night because I have to finish so much work after coming home from a sport or a club.”

Farina said a strategy for achieving New Year’s resolutions is breaking broader goals into more specific ones.

“You want to start extremely small,” Farina said. “People are more likely to follow through on that because of the traction that they get from doing it consistently. That helps them build it up over the long-term.”

To maintain New Year’s resolutions, O’Reilly said it is crucial to create pressure to complete your goals such as being open with them to social groups and purchasing gym memberships for motivation.

“A characteristic of commitment is a sense of irrevocability, a sense that you had invested something in it,” O’Reilly said.

To reinforce good habits, O’Reilly said it’s also important to establish a reward system in pursuit of your goals.

“They (should consider) what positive reinforcements they can set for themselves, so if they make these small, incremental achievements, they get rewarded for it,” O’Reilly said.

Farina also said it is important to celebrate small achievements to maintain motivation and resilience.

“Whenever you are making any kind of progress, you should celebrate it because it helps you feel successful,” Farina said. “It keeps your energy up for it.”

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Alex Isayama, Staff Writer
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