Most resolutions center on four principles: redemption, renewal, hope and accountability, says Stephen J. Ferrando, MD, Director of Psychiatry at Westchester Medical Center.
Typically focused on correcting a bad trait or achieving a healthier lifestyle, resolutions are “often predicated on the notion that you didn’t do so well the year before,” Dr. Ferrando says. Ironically, resolutions can inadvertently encourage people to behave badly up until New Year’s Day.
And, research shows that less than 10 percent of people maintain resolutions beyond even a few weeks and the percentage drops dramatically in February.
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“People need to feel hopeful that they can change,” he says, noting that it may help to make resolutions public or wager with friends to introduce an increased sense of accountability. Picking realistic goals can also foster success, he says. “People typically create absolutes for themselves, like they’re going to lose 10 pounds a month. When they don’t achieve this, they revert back to old behavior.”
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