calendarAs we approach another New Year, people are writing and talking about the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. A couple of days ago Chuck wrote a blog about questions you should ask yourself before making a list of resolutions. He promised that I would write a blog about how to go about making your resolutions. Well, I could do that.

For example, be specific and concrete. Don’t say you are going to support world peace—instead, resolve to contribute something to UNICEF, the United Nations fund to help children around the world. And don’t go overboard—like stating that you are planning on working out 5 times a week every week.

What happens when you get a bad cold or the flu? You mess up and then your resolution becomes unobtainable. Many people give up entirely when they experience a small lapse. Instead, make your goal more reasonable such as “I will work out most weeks of the year.”

Finally, make a resolution that gives you some reward. Intangible rewards come from feeling good something you’ve done such as when you feel for having broken bad habit. Tangible rewards are involve doing something nice for yourself when you accomplish your resolution, like splurging on a purchase you’ve put off or doing something especially fun.

Okay, so I wrote some tips on how to make resolutions. But, here’s my real advice. Don’t do it. Just stop. Now—they don’t work! For too many people, announcing that they are going to do something becomes a one step process. People say lots of things then don’t follow through.

Probably half of all adults want to lose weight, exercise more, eat healthy, or give up a bad habit. If New Year’s Resolutions worked, we’d all be thin, eating healthy, exercising more, happy, and having meaningful purposeful lives. But, New Year’s Resolutions obviously don’t really help people do what they want to do—at least not all that often. Doing works better than talking. So this year, keep your promises to yourself and just do it.

Calendar photo available from Shutterstock.



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Happy New Year 2012! | what would wants (January 5, 2012)

    Last reviewed: 31 Dec 2011

APA Reference
Smith, L. (2011). Make Some New Year’s Unresolutions. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 27, 2015, from


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Laura L. Smith, Ph.D. and Charles H. Elliott, Ph.D. are authors of many books, including Overcoming Anxiety for Dummies and Child Psychology & Development for Dummies.

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