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Why Do People Always Make New Year’s Resolutions?

12.19.2012 | By:

It’s that time of year –the holiday dinner has been reduced to leftovers, the mid-day nap is over and you’re taking stock of your life. If you’re like most people, you’re probably going to resolve to do a few things differently in 2013. Just like you did in 2012. And in 2011. And in 2010.

But why? Why do people like to make New Year’s resolutions? What’s the point? We asked Lisa Hensley, psychology department chair at Texas Wesleyan University, to explain what it is about New Year’s resolutions that appeals to us, and why we’re so compelled to keep making them.

“The end of the year involves taking stock,” Hensley said, “and looking at things in your life that are working well, things that maybe aren’t working so well … and using that to look forward to the next year.”

Your brain loves milestones

People tend to look back on the year and then plan what can be better about next year. “It propels people to evaluate what’s been going on and what’s been happening to them and to look forward to the New Year,” Hensley said.

Some resolutions are more popular than others

Hensley says the top three New Year’s resolutions are losing weight, getting organized and spending less money. These aren’t bad goals, but unless you develop a plan to meet them, you may be making them again in 2014.

Make a plan to meet your resolutions

Having a date or milestone to achieve your resolution helps you focus on achieving it. Be developing a plan, you’re more likely to meet your goal, and to make adjustments along the way if you aren’t.