Realistic resolution | Columnists |

Samidha mishra

Samidha mishra

Well, it’s that time of year again. Gyms will be full, refrigerators will be stocked with vegetables, and newspapers will be exhausted – the motivational magic of New Year’s resolutions engulfs the population.

The practice of setting these yearly expectations for oneself has been around for 4,000 years now – since the age of the Babylonians. They made annual promises to their gods in order to keep divine favor. These vows are the precursors of modern resolutions, including oaths to repay debts or return borrowed items. The Romans, too, made similar religious promises of good conduct at the beginning of each year to Janus – the two-sided divinity of choices from which January takes its name.

Despite years of use, it looks like we haven’t gotten much better at keeping our resolutions. In fact, as Forbes reports, only 8% of people who set goals for the New Year achieve them. Psychologists outline several reasons why this is the case. The biggest is also the simplest: our brains get tired. Like our body, our brain wants to maintain homeostasis – the way we regulate our biological functions to maintain stability – it doesn’t like when there’s an imbalance, or when it’s under or over-stimulated. However, that is exactly what New Years Resolutions do. We put a lot of brains and energy into sustaining these goals at the start of the year, so in March (or, let’s face it, January 17th) we we are out of breath.

To counter these natural but awkward tendencies, you can add a few details to your resolutions. On the one hand, rather than setting general goals (the most popular of which tends to be ‘lose more weight’), psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert suggests setting realistic and specific goals (i.e. say lose 10 pounds by March). He also maintains that the wording of the resolution is also important, because putting a positive spin on the wish increases the chances of being fulfilled – there is an influential difference between “more junk food” and “eating more vegetables”.

So. Are you ready? In using such techniques, you should be prepared to choose your resolutions. How would you like to finally use that journal that was given to you years ago? Maybe take that guitar lesson you’ve always wanted? 2022 is a new start for all of us after a hectic year, so start it off on the right foot by setting specific, achievable and beneficial goals for yourself. Good year!

Samidha Mishra is in her final year at San Mateo High School. Student News appears in the weekend edition. You can email Student News at [email protected]

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