Why are new year’s resolutions so darn hard for us to achieve?

By Zhou Xinyu Source:Global Times Published: 2018/1/10 19:48:40

Illustration: Chen Xia/GT

I think I'm the kind of person who likes to change plans often because I don't have any motivation or desire to pursue my goals. My mother often says to me, "One who has a strong mind will set one long-term target to pursue. One who has a weak heart may have a large number of goals but often changes them." I admit that this expression fits me well.

At the beginning of 2017, I wrote a list of resolutions on my WeChat Moments. "Read one new book every month, lose 5 kilograms of body fat, watch an American TV series, save money." However, I didn't achieve any of those goals in 2017. I only read two books all year, I actually gained weight and I didn't save any money.

I'm a glutton for fast food and am quite lazy. Even though I subscribe to weight-loss and body-shaper courses on some fitness apps, every time I exercised, afterward I ate like a horse. And because I didn't exercise regularly, my body was often in pain. So I'd just procrastinate exercising if I was busy or when my friends convinced me to go to dinner or watch a movie with them instead.

As for books, at first I set aside special reading time every evening, then it turned into once a week, then once a month. Now, every evening I just play on my mobile phone, watch TV or browse the internet until 1 am. I can remember every episode of a television series I've watched, but I can't recite any passage from the books I've read.

I rented an apartment with my friend in Shanghai after I graduated university in 2017. In order to save money, we decided to cook more meals at home, then take our leftovers to work the next day. I insisted on doing this, but it only lasted two weeks until the temptation of take-away food got the best of us. Now I spend 50 yuan ($7.66) every day on take-away or fast food. You should see the huge folds of fat around my belly; I feel more and more embarrassed about my body by the day.

There is a new internet buzzword in China, "Set up a flag," meaning to make one's resolution. But this "flag" can easily be taken down. In the first week of 2018, I saw many of my friends share their latest new year's resolution lists on social media. These included going to bed early, making or saving more money, becoming more self-confident, learning a foreign language, exercising and so on. But most of these same people didn't achieve any of their goals in 2017, either. Why is it so hard for us?

Sohu.com recently published an article about a psychologist at New York University named Peter Gollwitzer who conducted an experiment to show that people who share their goals and resolutions with others are the ones who most easily fail.

Because when you brag about your goals (for example, what kind of person you want to be in the future) you will create the illusion that you are already successful. Other people's understanding and recognition of your goals also make you think you have accomplished part of it.

But, sadly, the main reason most of us fail to achieve our personal goals and new year's resolutions is that we utterly lack the courage and determination to persist.

It's 2018, and I've set up another flag in my heart. But this time I won't tell anyone about it. And only I will ever know if I achieved these goals. Let's just hope this experiment works, because I really need to make some big changes in my unhealthy, lazy lifestyle.

The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Global Times.

Posted in: TWOCENTS

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