It's that time again... where we sit down and make a list of all the ways that this new year will be better than the last - all the ways we will make personal improvements. We will lose weight, exercize, drink less, smoke less, recycle, spend more quality time with the kids, do yoga, etc etc etc.
Last new years the New York Times reported these startling (or not so startling) statistics: four out of five people who make new years resolutions eventually break them. One third of those folks won't even make it to the end of January. So does that mean we should do away with resolutions all together? Should we just say, "Screw it! Pass me another peice of cheesecake!"? That particular article suggests several "practical resolutions", but my favorite is Limit Your Resolutions:
Studies suggest that willpower is a limited resource. If you make too many resolutions, you won’t have enough willpower reserves to stick to all of them. “People make all these different New Year’s resolutions, but they are all pulling off from the same pool of your willpower,” said Florida State University psychology professor Roy Baumeister, who spoke to me earlier this month for a post about willpower. “It’s better to make one resolution and stick to it than make five.”
(check out the post about willpower... also interesting).
So whether you make one or ten resolutions this year, todays show on Breaking Bad Habits might help. In a world of immediate gratification and a complete lack of willpower - some folks are finding innovative and creative ways to help people rid themselves of their vices. Namely, the women of SisterTalk Hartford - who use faith to help African American women lose weight... and Yale law and economics guru Ian Ayres who lets people bet on their personal goals at Stickk.com.
Let us know what your resolutions are this year - and how you plan on sticking to them. My new years resolution? To call my grandmother. Meditate. Start running (again). I'll let you know how it goes.
***NOTE: WNPR reporter Anna Sale just brought my attention to this NYTimes article from yesterday - that re-affirms what our friends at SisterTalk Hartford are doing with religion and weight loss. Researchers studied eight decades of data and concluded that religous belief and piety promote self control. Read on for more. Another new years resolution? Go to church! (I think this idea of "limiting my resolutions" is already out the door.)