New Years Resolutions? Don’t bother…

…unless you already understand the limits to how you make your decisions. Jonah Lehrer posted a good article on WSJ on why we usually fail at New Year’s resolutions — from a behavioral perspective of course.  One thing I want to include though is my own observation with people’s behaviors.

Here is the behavioral pattern that screws up people’s New Years resolutions: People use an arbitrary date to justify their procrastination because they need to relieve the guilt from their failure that is guaranteed to ensue.

Why New Years? Why not now?

Incremental change, although slow, is the best way to change negative behaviors. Everyone is so fixated on the brand new you that they don’t realize that the real change is just in the decisions one makes. People always fail to realistically match their expectations with how they actually make their decisions. Therefore, people need an arbitrary date to relieve them from their failure because after all, “there’s always next year.”

Jonah Lehrer is right: we always overestimate our capacity for willpower.

You don’t need New Years to make a change.  Just a little understanding of ones limits can go a long way in making better decisions.

HT: Freakonomics

P.S. That’s my self-help advice for the year…heh. Happy New Year!

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