Cheers to another go ‘round
December 28, 2017
Yet another year has come and gone. So long, 2017. You're so yesterday. Hello 2018, we're ready for you.
Remember this time last year, when we all couldn't wait to say goodbye to 2016 and welcome in 2017? How reassured we felt, thinking that a shift in calendar year would solve all of our problems and give us a chance to do and be better. All of our excess fat was going to melt away in 2017 and be replaced with lean muscle. Our overindulgences such as smoking, drinking and spending too much money would no longer be excessive. If we had debt, it would go away, and if we were slacking to get something done, it would complete itself. Perfection would come in 2017 because, really, anything slightly better than 2016 could surely not fail us.
And now, here we are. It's the end of 2017, and all I've heard from friends and family is how ready they are to start the new year. But why? What makes 2018 so exponentially different than 2017?
This New Year's belief that all of our problems fizzle out with that last guzzle of Champagne the morning of Jan. 1 isn't very realistic. Yet, we all adhere to the notion. We look at the birth of a new year as a fresh start, a time when anything and everything is possible. This sounds wonderful.
I love the idea that we get to start anew each year and that anything is achievable. But that hype is what ends up hurting us, according to researchers, because we make unrealistic goals. The term that coins this annual cycle is false hope syndrome. Essentially, this is where we come up with grandiose ideas for change that are nowhere near possible. We probably do it innocently, as we're deep into the holiday spirit and excited for a rebirth. But, because these goals are so much larger than what we're capable of achieving — at least right away — we typically abandon our resolutions by some point in February.
So, what are some strategies to help us from falling into the same New Year's resolution pattern that we always do? For starters, we should learn to take bite-sized pieces or baby steps, however you care to look at them. Incremental changes are much more reachable than sweeping transformations. We also should recognize the larger reason we want to reach a goal. It's not about the exact specifics, it's the behavioral change we make so that these intentions become a part of our whole life and not just a short phase in it. Many psychologists cite that changing your behavior toward something helps alter the neural pathways in your brain. Only then can we really start to move the needle.
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Whatever your New Year's resolution is this year — or if you think this is a stupid tradition and you take no part in it— remember that being realistic in your goals will always make change more achievable. And don't forget to have a little fun along the way.
As for me, I plan to pop a few bottles of Champagne on the last day of 2017, spend time with loved ones and dance the night away. Come the next morning, I will continue to work on my personal goals — moving forward in the best ways I know how, as I try to do always, no matter the day or year. I will also probably guzzle down at least one bloody mary and one mimosa. Hey, I certainly never claim to be perfect.
See you in 2018.
Barbara Platts promises her next column will be happy and full of positivity. She realizes her holiday writings as of late have been a bit pessimistic. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @BarbaraPlatts.
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