a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

How to keep that 2012 New Year’s resolution

Posted on the December 28th, 2011

Human routines are stubborn things, which helps explain why 88% of all resolutions end in failure, according to a 2007 survey of over 3,000 people conducted by the British psychologist Richard Wiseman. (Wall Street Journal, 2009)

New Year’s Day:  Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions.  Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual.  ~Mark Twain (quotegarden.com)


Notwithstanding the dismal prognosis of the first quote above, and the blackly humorous perspective of the second one, I will be making a couple of resolutions when I raise my glass of spumante in a New Year’s toast a couple of days from now. And I suspect in doing so I will be among the majority in the Western world.

Old habits die hard, you  might say. And that is one of the points of the Wall Street Journal article, excerpted above. In particular the article recounts some recent studies about will power. And in spite of its gloomy opening paragraph, the report also offers some hope.

In effect, it’s not that there are superhumans among us who simply have amazing will power, it’s that these humans seem super because they’ve learned how to cleverly manage the same meager will power we all share. The research the WSJ cites shines a light on how that’s done. And the good news is that anyone can do it.

To read that good news, read the full article here (it’s short).

I also unearthed a one-minute video on how to keep our resolutions by the psychologist Richard Wiseman quoted in the WSJ article. Click on the screenshot below to watch it.

And I leave you with a dash of optimism from Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Ellen Goodman, who probably knows a bit about will power.

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched.  Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.

Happy New Year, or as they say in my part of the world… Buon Anno!

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