Promises, Promises…New Year’s Promises

Do you make an annual New Year’s resolution and never see it through? Whether the goal is to lose weight, exercise more, drinking less or start a new hobby, there is a whole psychology as to why people can’t fulfill their resolution.  

While many goals spark hope and enthusiasm, the reality is that most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned within a few months.  According to an October 2023 Forbes Health/OnePoll survey, 61.7 percent of the respondents said they felt pressured to set a New Year’s resolution. Many respondents said they plan to set multiple goals with 65.5 percent saying they planned to make three or more resolutions for 2024.

Reasons why vary. According to the website VeryWell/Mind we may be thinking too big, we may not be asking why we think we need a change, or we may not be ready to make a change. According to licensed clinical psychologist Terri Bly, who is cited in the article, successful resolutions require a process. It includes Precontemplation: starting to become aware that there may be something to change; Contemplation: Thinking about making a change; Preparation: Starting to  put a plan together to make a change; Action: Making the change and Maintenance: Determining how to maintain the change. Tall order! 

 Lewes resident and life coach Pat Malandra has a few thoughts on the subject. “Of the main reasons we don’t keep our promises to ourselves is that we don’t feel the same accountability to ourselves that we do to others,” she says. Malandra has a workshop called Promises, Promises that addresses the issue.  

She defers to a December 2022 article in Time magazine called “Sick of Failing at Your New Year’s Resolutions? There is a Better Way”. The article points out that the NEW New Year’s resolutions tend to be the resolutions from the previous year, and the year before that, and….you get the picture.  

The article goes on to say that only 8% of people stick with their resolutions the entire year. According to the article, “Given this less than stellar track record, it is worth asking, what would we do if we were serious? What would we do differently if we really did want to stick to our resolutions for more than a few weeks?” 

Based on a review of over 100 studies, many present-day psychologists cite “situation change” as the best strategy for exerting self-control. The theory is this: rather than exposing one to temptations and hoping to possess the will power to resist, it is better to avoid confronting them in the first place. 

The Time article goes on to note that it is to remember that people around us and the groups we belong to have a substantial influence on behavior—influence that can be leveraged to help achieve goals. 

Interestingly, writing more may be a saving grace when it comes to fulfilling resolutions. The authors cited their own experience – leveraging the power of groups by joining writing where goals are set together and monthly meetings are held. “Groups help people achieve their goals by setting social norms and creating a sense of accountability,” they say. 

The Rehoboth Beach Writers Guild does just that with its bi-monthly meetings and numerous “free writes”. All things considered; it is not surprising that the organization has about 500 members who take advantage of the Guild’s benefits. It might be worth a look, as a group time to move forward through tracking and reflection on your resolutions (BONUS: and maybe channel some of those creative juices!).

Mary Jo Tarallo spent much of her career in public relations with various non-profits and spent 40 years involved with the ski industry s a journalist, public relations director for a national trade association and as executive director of the Learn to Ski and Snowboard initiative. Prior to her ski industry involvement she worked for the Maryland International Center in Baltimore and United Way of Central Maryland. She won a Gold Award for TV programming for a United Way simulcast that starred Oprah Winfrey. She has been cited for her work by numerous organizations. Mary Jo grew up in Baltimore, attended the University of Maryland and Towson University, lived in Washington, DC for 21 years and has been a full time resident of Rehoboth Beach and Milton since May 2019.  

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