The ClientWise Blog

Promises, Promises...

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Dec 30, 2009 2:45:00 PM

The tradition of New Year's resolutions probably began in the year of 153 B.C., when the Romans named the first month of the year after Janus, the god of gates, doorways, and beginnings and endings. The two-headed Janus has been used to signify change and transitions, such as the progression of past to future, or of one condition to another. Naturally, Janus also became the symbol for resolutions. Many Romans resolved to do better in the coming year, and used the New Year as an opportunity to ask forgiveness from their enemies, or delivered gifts of sacred tree branches on New Year's Eve.

In more modern times, the ritual of New Year's resolutions continues. More than 100 million Americans will resolve to start, or stop, their good and bad habits. One of the more definitive studies on New Year's resolutions was undertaken by Alan Marlatt Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Washington, and director of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center. Dr. Marlatt has studied this subject for more than 30 years. To be successful with your own resolutions, he suggests the following:

  • Have a strong initial commitment to making a change.
  • Develop coping strategies to deal with the bumps and obstacles that inevitably arise.
  • Keep track of your progress. The more monitoring one does, the greater the chances of success.

In contrast, he has observed three important predictors for resolution failure:

  • Not thinking about making resolutions until the last moment.
  • Reacting (impetuously) on New Year's Eve...and making your resolutions based upon what's troubling you at that particular time.
  • Framing your resolutions as absolutes by saying, "I will never do (x) again!"

Moreover, Marlatt offers the following words to encouragement to resolution makers: "Take credit for success when you achieve a resolution, but it is a mistake to blame yourself if you fail. Instead, look at the barriers that were in your way. See how you can do better the next time and figure out a better plan to succeed. You do get to try again and can make behavior changes throughout the year, not only at New Year's."

From all of us at ClientWise, we would like to wish you the best of success, happiness and good health in the coming year. 2009 is past (and what a year it was.) 2010 is born. Cin Cin!

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Topics: Change