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The psychology behind New Year’s resolutions

Click to play video: 'Psychology behind New Year’s resolutions: Are you setting yourself up to fail?' Psychology behind New Year’s resolutions: Are you setting yourself up to fail?
WATCH ABOVE: For many, making a New Year’s resolution has become the thing to do sort of a new year and a new you. But what are the chances you’ll keep your 2020 personal goals? Susan Hay interviews Dr. Simon Sherry – Jan 6, 2020

OK, so the holidays are officially over which means this is the week to get back on track. This brings us to personal goals for 2020.

Have you made a New Year’s resolution? And if so, will you be able to keep it?

Resolutions can range from small promises to ourselves to quite grand and more often than not, we fail to see our goals to the end. Dr. Simon Sherry, a Dalhousie University psychology and neuroscience professor, explained the psychology behind it all.

READ MORE: How to learn a new language: Expert advice for acing your New Year’s resolution

“Humans enjoy temporal landmarks like New Year’s because it’s a chance to wipe the slate clean, to forget about the struggles, failures, transgressions of 2019 as we move into 2020,” he said.

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But how difficult is it to take the goals we set for ourselves and turn them into something concrete?

”An average New Year’s resolution fails five to 10 times before it’s actually implemented and locked down as a behavioural change,” explained Sherry.

Actions speak louder than words and according to Dalhousie’s personality research team.

READ MORE: 4 financial resolutions to really get a handle on your money in 2020

Forty per cent of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually maintain those behavioural changes for at least six months. That’s a long time to sustain a shift in your life. Those who do set goals can have up to three at a time on average and 25 per cent fail within the first week.

“We know that when people make realistic, timely and narrow goals, they have a greater probability of succeeding,” Sherry said.

Sherry’s advice included establishing an action plan that can help you succeed and creating little reminders you can set on your phone to prompt you to change your behaviour whether it be health and fitness or coping with stress planning for change may actually help you keep your New Year’s resolution this time around.

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