Why Is It So Damn Hard to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolution?


How’s your new year’s resolution coming along?

We’re nearly two full weeks into 2017; plenty of time for people to start regressing into the bad behaviours of a year now past. By this time next year, according to historic data, only 8% of us will be able to say we committed to and implemented the changes we swore to make.

If you’re not part of that 8%, don’t despair. Today is the perfect day to try again, and we’re here to help.

That doesn’t mean sharing a list of nebulous, cliched ways you can make your resolution more practical, or the “you can do it!” quotes that pop up so frequently early in the year that you would think they were compulsory.

We know it’s not that simple. Eternally, we’re teetering on the edge between desire and compulsion, as our survival instincts and conscious choice go to battle in our brains.

“I know I should keep working, but I’m so tired.”

“I know fast food is bad for me, but I can’t convince myself to stop eating it.”

“I know it’s wiser to save money, but I enjoy shopping.”

Like any other animal, we are in constant motion, moving towards what we want and away from what we don’t. In a commercialised, easy world, however, what we want is no longer necessarily what is best for us.

Understanding how our minds deal with this conflict is key to making change.

In the video above (also available, with transcript, at TED), psychologist Barry Schwartz offers his insight into the paralysing effect of freedom of choice, and how to work towards realising what choices are best for you. If what he says interests you, I recommend picking up his 2004 book The Paradox of Choice, which goes deeper into the topic.

From all of us at The 8 Percent, we wish you great success and happiness in 2017.

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