If you’re like most people, you probably set some ambitious goals at the start of 2013. Each year people set out with the best of intentions, but unfortunately, the majority of people will stop working towards their goals within the first few weeks of the New Year. One reason is because people get discouraged when they don’t see an immediate change. Are you one of them?
I recently had the pleasure to speak to Dr. Christine Carter (http://www.christinecarter.com) about how people can set and stick to their New Year’s goals in 2013 and beyond. Dr. Carter offered some really great advice, but don’t take my word for it. Our interview is below.
Daphne: Why do you think it's important for children to set New Year’s resolutions?
Dr. Christine Carter: I think it’s really important for children to set new years resolutions because it teaches them a core life skill, and that is to make positive changes in their lives when they aren't prompted by trauma or a crisis. A lot of times as adults, we make really big life changes when we have a health crisis, for example. But we also need to show kids how to make big life changes that will make us happier because of the New Year or because we want to grow each year as a person.
Daphne: Why do believe that most people quit working towards their New Year resolution goals within the first few weeks of the year?
Dr. Christine Carter: I believe that most people quit working towards their resolution goals in the first few weeks of the year is because we bite off more than we can chew. We make long, ambitious lists of resolutions of everything we'd like to change in our lives, and in fact, we can't do that. Willpower is like a muscle, it's a limited resource in our lives and we only have so much to apply to making a new change. So when we bite off more than we can chew, we tend to have really spectacular failures in January.
Daphne: What approach should people take when setting New Years resolutions?
Dr. Christine Carter: I recommend that the approach people take towards setting new years resolutions is to really just focus on one ridiculously easy life change at a time. In the Hampton Hotels survey, they saw that 38% of people felt that willpower was going to be their largest obstacle to keeping their resolutions. And most people are right, willpower is going to be an obstacle. So lessen that by focusing in on just one little change that you can make at a time... one ridiculously easy change. It's so much better to take small steady steps towards a change than it is to outline a really long spectacular list of changes you'd like to make and then not make any of them.
Daphne: What can people do to help ensure they achieve their New Year’s resolutions?
Dr. Christine Carter: One of the best things people can do to ensure that they keep their new years resolutions is to find somebody to keep them accountable... even a group of people that will help to provide some social support. So in the Hampton survey, 21% of people felt that they didn’t have anybody to hold them accountable and this is really going to hinder your success if you aren’t able to find some social support- if you cant find someone to keep you honest in keeping your resolution. So, tell people what it is you are trying to do- post it on Facebook or twitter, join an online community like the one you can find at http;//www.christinecarter.com that will provide some social support for you in keeping your new years resolutions.
Daphne: Being that people don't achieve all their new year’s goals, do you think their self esteem is affected? What could be done to prevent this feeling of failure?
Dr. Christine Carter: Because most people don't keep all of their new year’s resolutions, their self esteem CAN be affected, and your confidence can be rocked if you are really wanting to make a change and then you aren't able to do it. So I think its really important to learn a little bit about what it takes to start a new habit, to break an old habit, to get some of the science behind how we as human beings are able to make changes, and focus on the things that you can do.... its really important to acknowledge that a lapse in keeping a resolution is really different than a relapse... everybody's going to stumble a little bit, everyone is going to have days where they don't keep their resolution, and that doesn't necessarily mean that you're not going to keep it long term. A lapse is not a relapse just as a stumble is not a fall, so its really important to remember that a lot of time the way human beings make changes is a lot times they take 2 steps forward and then one step backward and that's ok because over the long haul those changes will be made.
Did you set New Year’s Resolutions? What have you done to ensure you will achieve them?
To watch interview
To learn more about Hampton survey