The Psychology of New Year’s Resolutions

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In a time as rocky and uncertain as the COVID-19 era, there is at least one thing that is almost guaranteed right now: those New Year’s resolutions we made for 2022 may be looking a little shaky already. 

People love to set goals, and setting objectives can lead to meaningful change. But let’s face it: We aren’t necessarily great at sticking to those goals — especially New Year’s resolutions. A recent study found that about 64% (or two-thirds) of people abandon their New Year’s resolutions within a month.

What gives? Why do we even bother if the resolutions are going to fade by February? And what’s going to make it different this year — for real, this time?

Why We Set New Year’s Resolutions

It’s part aspiration and part tradition.

“We tend to set resolutions because the New Year serves as a cyclical marker of time during which we reevaluate and take inventory on our lives,” says Sabrina Romanoff, PsyD, clinical psychologist and professor at Yeshiva University in New York City. “The drive for making resolutions is motivated by this punctuation in time, like a yearly college graduation, activates hope and expectations for what we hope to achieve going forward.”

You crack open a new calendar and imagine what could be.

“New Year’s gives us a sense of renewal, which causes us to think about areas in our life we want to improve [or] change and the start and stop of a clock always feels like the natural time,” says psychologist Mariana Strongin, PsyD.

But that excitement is also part of the problem.

Why Resolutions Fail

Maybe you had your rose-colored glasses on last year.

“Often people do not map out or think about what it will take to accomplish a goal or make a resolution and instead rely on the excitement of the new year as the thing that will push them

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