It is so tempting to trot out a few resolutions when December 31st rolls around, no matter how unsuccessful we’ve been with resolutions in the past.  Dieting is the most common resolution, but most ‘resolutioners’ gradually lose interest and ultimately fail.  Psychologists call this the “false hope syndrome”.  The definition of this syndrome is the repeated failures at attempts to change aspects of oneself.  Maybe we should consider other ways of approaching resolutions?

Studies show that most people are not going to keep their resolutions all year long.  However, people who make resolutions are more likely to make improvements than people who haven’t made any resolutions.  And, if you can stick to your resolution through January you have a good chance of continuing even longer. Finally, those people who do not run out of willpower are the ones who set their lives up to compliment their resolutions.  In other words, they avoid triggers and temptations.  This takes forethought and planning, but can be done.

If you are still discouraged, maybe one of these three alternative approaches would be more appealing.

Here’s a novel idea that the New York Times City Room is trying this year.  Instead of focusing on ourselves, how about proposing resolutions we’d like our loved ones to make? There is no doubt that this can be tricky, but if done carefully it can convey important messages.  Something along the lines of “I want you to live a really long time so please stop smoking” might be acceptable.  Of course, your loved ones get to make their proposals to you as well!

Or you can make a family resolution.  For example, the entire family might decide to spend one on one time with each other at least once a week, or try to spend one vacation all together, or that everyone should exercise more.

Another approach would be to make the resolutions “to-dos” instead of “to-don’t’s”. This idea comes from the author Rivka Caroline. This is shifting from the negative to the positive.   For example, instead of resolving to lose weight (don’t eat sugar, don’t eat anything with white flour etc.)  resolve to eat healthier foods.

I am one of the repeat failures and I find New Year’s resolutions both hopeful and discouraging at the same time.  I personally think I might try option three, the positive approach.  Whatever you choose to do, we wish you success!  At least we’re all trying!