Turning Over a New Leaf

Turning over a new leaf

So how easy is it to turn over a new leaf? Here’s three articles to help you think about the challenges you may have in setting and keeping your new year resolutions, or whether having them at all is good for your health.

Why we make New Year Resolutions and why they fail

In this New Yorker article, Maria Konnikova (sorry this article has been removed by the New Yorker) discovers that fresh starts do push us to change our behaviour at what psychologist Richard Thaler calls  our “notational boundaries” – the start of a week, month or a year.  As in “diets always start on a Monday.”

three reasons not to make new year resolutions

Amy B Scher an expert in mind-body healing suggests three positive reasons why you shouldn’t make a new year resolution. Firstly every single day is a new start, so you can start the change process anytime. The things that improve our lives most are not the things we resolve to do. The happiest people are those who surround themselves with friend and family, don’t want to keep up with the Joneses and forgive easily. Finally she says let’s remember we are more than good enough. “Goals and hopes for our future can change in an instant; and if we can sustain ourselves through all of this chaos that is life, we have done well. What if instead of judging ourselves by our accomplishments, we pride ourselves on just who we are at this very moment? Let’s set our intention for this to be more than good enough”.

Will they do you More Harm Than Good?

Amy Cuddy a social psychologist at Harvard says “We’re really bad at setting reasonable goals. And when we don’t meet an unreasonable goal, we fill ourselves with feelings of anxiety and lower our self-worth”. She identify four problems with the way we generally set our goals – they deal with absolutes, are framed by negativity, focused on outcomes and not process and reliant on outside forces. Cuddy has no problem with new year being a time to commit to goals, but she advocates for small goals or “self nudges” positively framed.

So the best advice is to think about:

  • self nudges or small goals, positively framed. What Amy Cuddy would call reasonable goals.
  • the process or steps towards achieving your new year resolutions
  • reviewing the appropriateness of any resolutions, frequently.

But don’t beat yourself up, there’s always tomorrow!

 

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