The Happiness Blog’s Guide to Making (and Keeping!) New Year’s Resolutions, Part II

Last week we looked at some dismal statistics around New Year’s resolutions. But this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make any. Studies show that people who make resolutions are more likely to make changes than those have the same behaviors to change and don’t make resolutions. So it’s not a bad idea to set goals for change, we just have to do it in a healthy and effective way.

Many resolutions are focused on starting new habits. In the excitement of a new year, a new beginning, we tend to want to revamp ourselves and leap ahead to the person we strive to be. We want to start hitting the gym and calling Grandma every Sunday. Not bad habits to start, but take a look at what motivates you to do them. We are more likely to turn a new behavior into a habit if it comes naturally to us, we believe it has value, or we find it enjoyable. We are not likely to develop a habit around behaviors that we do out of guilt or shame, or because someone or something else is pushing us to do it. So call Grandma because you know it makes her happy and you enjoy her stories – not because your mother is making you. Go to the gym because you know it’s important for your health and also because you love your new “Gym 2015 Woooo!” playlist and not because you’d otherwise feel ashamed.

Last bit of advice about making New Year’s resolutions: don’t make 80 of them. Come up with one, maybe two. After all, you’re pretty awesome the way you are.