Resolutions fulfilled here

by Andy Bryenton

It’s the start of a new year and the start of a new decade. The 20s are here, and that means ample opportunity to make some resolutions that this time, you’re definitely going to keep.

Not surprisingly, there have been many international studies into the psychology behind new year’s resolutions, and why the symbolic beginning of the earth’s rotation around the sun brings out an introspective mood in us human beings. As a species, which thrives on narrative and forward planning, we apparently love to tell ourselves stories that have happy endings. Stories like ‘I will go to the gym this year religiously, and lose 20 kilos. I will finish off that engine swap on the Mustang. I will renovate the kitchen and stop living in a construction site’.

The key to keeping these promises, according to psychologists and researchers at both the University of Nottingham in England and UCLA Berkeley in the US, is the word SMART. Of those who make new year’s goals, only 10 per cent follow through without making them Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound. Adding these criteria bumps it up to more than 50 per cent. In the case of getting on top of renovations, break it down to specific tasks. “I’ll finish this house off in 2020’ is likely to land in that 10 per cent. ‘I’ll call up the plumbers, take measurements, and have the new sink and cabinets in by February 30’ is far more likely to come to pass.

The other key is help. Experts in human behaviour put this factor down to two things. The first is that it’s easy to become frustrated without assistance, and either fall into doing things the hard way or the wrong way with awful results. The second is that human pride won’t allow many of us to let another person see us quit. Going to the gym, for example, is one thing.

However, signing up with a like-minded friend will reinforce your resolve.

Getting specific advice from a dietician and trainer does even more.

It applies, too, to those practical jobs. Plan a working bee to enjoy fixing up that classic car or bike with your mates, or get some input from your local professionals to fire up your imagination. By applying SMART, you can turn resolutions into realities.