New Year is coming, and like any other year, you know for sure that by Jan 1, your Facebook newsfeed is going to get invaded by the so-called ‘New Year’s resolution’ posts from friends and acquaintances (again).
We all enjoyed making New Year’s resolution when we were younger, but as more years passed by, the joy of making plans and wishes for New Year just gradually became blurry. In fact, we sometimes get sick of it. “I’m never gonna get to fulfill them, so what’s the point anyway?”, our inner voice asks. The future is all dim and dark.
Why people make resolution
In other to answer that question, we just have to take a look at the reasons why people make New Year’s resolution in the first place.
As a year comes to an end, the first thing that comes to our mind is a sense of regret for all the things that we haven’t gotten to do throughout that year. There’s always that one guy who has been having a crush on this hottie at his school for the whole year, but never has the gut to tell, you know?
On the other hand, when old things pass by and new things come, we tend to hold the psychology of ‘looking forward to what’s coming ahead’. It’s similar to how drawn-out to-do list are made nights before a vacation, a trip, a new job or a new semester. Even when we get to buy something new (a new house for example), our minds automatically come up with thoughts on what to do with it (start a tulip garden, paint all the windows red, or build a secret underground base to grow some weed).
Why people don’t get to fulfill them
But afterwards, no matter how specific or carefully planned our New Year’s resolutions are, we never actually get to fulfill them or sometimes, just a small part of them.
Like any new job, school year or vacation, things just come at your face without a warning, shifting your attention away from its original orbit. There’s no way to oversee or plan them, like when your teacher demand a 30-pages long report for his course or a flight cancellation. The usual route for the mysterious disappearance of your annual New Year’s resolutions would look somewhat like this: year end anticipation > New Year’s resolution > New Year > crazy stuff thrown at your face > it’s June already, what’s my New Year’s resolution again? It’s frustrating, but what is unforeseen is inevitable.
After so many years of frustration, New Year just stops being new, and the next year doesn’t seem so important anymore. We either stop making resolutions, or start to let ourselves at ease when it comes to New Year’s resolution. We only come up with those resolutions when the “New Year” mood comes, and after it’s gone, we no longer feel the urge to fulfill them. We simply just wait for it to “feel right” again. Times after times, a brand new bad habit for New Year’s resolution is born.
Getting rid of bad habits
I found this very interesting explanation by Charles Duhigg regarding habits, saying “habit behaviours are traced back to a part of the brain called the basal ganglia – a portion of the brain associated with emotions, patterns, and memories. Decisions, on the other hand, are made in the prefrontal cortex, a completely different area. When a behavior becomes habit, we stop using our decision-making skills and
instead function on auto-pilot. Therefore, breaking a bad habit and building a new habit not only requires us to make active decisions, it will feel wrong. Your brain will resist the change in favor of what it has been programmed to do. The solution? Embrace the wrong. Acknowledge that it will take a while for your new regime to feel right or good or natural. Keep chugging along. It will happen.”
Basically, getting rid of habits, especially bad ones, requires a great deal of discipline.
But you don’t have to go all-out hardcore when you start adopting self discipline. Aside from stressing the hell out of you, going too hard would only result in failures and disappointments that will eventually lead you back to the old way of doing things. Set targets for yourself, but set some rewards for achieving those targets too.
Give yourself a massage treat at a local spa for every month working hard at the gym, or a feast at your favorite Chinese restaurant for every new level of Chinese acquired. Rewards give you a reason for moving forward without feeling like you suffering, and you deserve them for all of your great effort. There must be a reason why companies allow their employees to get paid vacation leaves though.
Another thing to keep in mind is, as I have already mentioned, things don’t always go as planned. Forgive yourself for the times when things go off the track. Going through the unforeseen could be frustrating, but the key is to get yourself on track again. No matter how many New Year’s resolutions you have left off in the past, don’t stop making them. This time, try to make another list of New Year’s resolution for yourself, but with a changed mindset. In the words of Melody Beattie, “The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written. We can help write that story by setting goals.”
Content & Edit: Rosie | Design: Vy Le