January 1st. The day we start the diet/stop smoking/join the gym/whatever. Or perhaps January 2nd, to give us a day to get over the hangover and polish off what’s left of the Christmas chocolates. Either way the tradition of making resolutions at the turn of the New Year can be dated back 4000 years ago when ancient Babylonians would pray to their Gods in the hope of receiving strength, protection and good fortune over the coming twelve months. The Romans made similar promises to their God Janus, and Medieval knights would reaffirm their chivalrous commitment to protecting their country each year. Given the seriousness that people put on their religious beliefs and the literal consequences that they believed might happen (terminal illness, death of family, failure of crops (starvation) or refusal entry to Heaven etc.), is it any wonder they stuck to their resolutions?
What resolutions come to mind amongst your friends and family? And what are the consequences if they are not stuck to? I’m hazarding a guess you’re probably not worried about going to Hell if you don’t attend Zumba twice a week for the next 6 months. The most popular resolutions according to 2011 Marist University poll found ‘losing weight’ was no. 1, followed by ‘exercising more’, ‘being more careful with money’, and ‘quitting smoking’.
Unfortunately, the psychologist Richard Wiseman of Bristol University found in a 2007 study that while 52% of people making New Year’s Resolutions are confident they can stick it out, only 12% actually do.
Strategy. Or lack of. How is it possible, that after years of overeating/smoking/overspending, you reckon you can just wake up on January 1st and suddenly have the means and willpower to change? Sorry but the human psych doesn’t work like that. It likes routine, habit, comfort; it is human nature to always ‘take the path of least resistance’ and give in (and have the fag/eat the chocolate bar etc.). A resolution is placed on the ‘to do’ list without any idea of how it is going to be done. You wouldn’t decide to move house without researching the best area to move to, getting a mortgage assessment, and finalising a sales contract first would you? You can’t; without that planning you fail.
Happy New Year from The Fit Mum Formula!