New Year’s Resolutions: why we make them and why we break them

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Making resolutions is a fundamental part of New Year’s celebrations. Wynne Lacey of Grow Wellness Group examines the psychology behind New Year’s resolutions. 

Why do we make New Year’s resolutions?

People ultimately make resolutions in order to feel in control. “The reason we make resolutions is because we feel that some part of our life just got out of control,” says Lacey, “that we want to regain that control at some level. And we’ve been taught all of our lives that the way you regain control or get control is to set certain outcomes, and those outcomes should be measurable.”

Why do we break our resolutions?

For Lacey, it’s not that people intentionally break their resolutions or give up on them, but they pick resolutions that are not sustainable. A lot of life factors can get in the way of maintaining those resolutions, ultimately leading to anxiety.

“Everyone is obsessed with controlling, and it’s becoming a mental health crisis,” says Lacdy. “It’s a massive burden on our nervous systems and brains to think that we’re controlling things that are way outside our control.”

What are some better ways to set up New Year’s resolutions? 

Lacey recommends practicing acceptance as a way to manage your resolutions. She uses a common goal of losing weight. 

“I would spend all of January practicing acceptance, and I would do that very specifically. I would stand on the scale and I would look down at the scale. And as I feel my little tiny, cute nervous system trying to control this, I would say I accept this weight, and I fully love myself where I am, even though I want something different right now. And so I would just spend the whole month practicing acceptance.”

After practicing acceptance, the next step is determining outside factors influencing weight, like age, hormones, or sleep patterns. 

“And then maybe in the spring, I would say, okay, if I’m in acceptance, if I am now full of some new knowledge, what’s the true behavior that I could start to implement that is in cooperation and not control, but cooperation with all of these factors,” says Lacey.