Making Resolutions Which Perform

Like dinosaurs and gas-guzzling SUVs, is the traditional New Year’s Resolution quickly turning into a thing belonging to the past?

Based on a survey by Stephen Shapiro, the answer is a resounding “Yes.”

From a survey involving 1012 Us residents, only 45% of Americans now say they create New Years Resolutions down from 88% of Americans who did so previously. The random telephone survey was done by Shapiro, author of “Goal-Free Living,” with the assistance of Opinion Research Corp. of Princeton N.J. The market research carries a margin of error of 3%.

The figures indicate a decrease of almost 50 % among Americans that use the yearly goal-setting institution. Why the dramatic decrease? “New Year’s Resolutions simply just don’t do the job,” affirms Shapiro, a former corporate advisor at Accenture whose book, Goal Free Living (Wiley $24.95) was the 1 Business Motivation best seller. “According to our analysis, only 8% of People in the usa say they constantly attain their New Year’s resolutions. The way it appears to operate now, establishing a New Year’s Resolution is often a formula for defeat. It has come to be one of the nation’s most masochistic customs - nearly rivaling Halloween in that respect.”

States Shapiro: “At some level, individuals just decide to stop harming themselves, and they call the whole thing off.”

According to the research, New Year’s resolution application in America has been falling swiftly with age 57% of those aged 18-24 set New Years resolutions, compared with only 32% of those above age 54 who still set them. “As we get older, we get wiser and we discover things which don’t benefit us and quit using them,” says Shapiro.

Between people who plan on continuing the tradition, a third (33%) state they will set just a single New Year’s goal for themselves, while 26% established 2-3 new goals for the year, and a hardy 6% set will set 4 or more goals for the New Year.

Setting a Resolution this coming year? Use Common Sense - or Maybe Not!

While Shapiro thinks the basic idea of the end-of-the year evaluation is a good one, he says that Americans as a whole have experienced very little instruction in the way of setting realistic goals that will truly boost their pleasure - and that because of this, almost all New Years Resolutions just wind up causing increased levels of aggression, defeat and disappointment.

“Albert Einstein once defined common sense as ‘the collection of prejudices obtained by age EIGHTEEN,’” says Shapiro. “In this sense, a lot of Americans are employing an excessive amount of ‘common sense’ while setting their particular annual goals. Why not this year, as a possible experiment set goals that are chosen to bring happiness and achievement in the New Year? Instead of setting goals based on supposed ‘faults’ or ‘flaws’ that your mom and dad or your own spouse might want you to ‘correct’- why not set objectives that may lead to your personal, unique delight, instead of simply just conforming to the frequently misguided, if well-meaning, expectations of other people?”

According to the analysis, of the people that intend to set New Years Resolutions for 2006:

  • * 34% say they will set a New Year’s Resolution related to their budget
  • * 38% say they will set a New Year’s Resolution based on their waist
  • * 47% state they will set a New Year’s Resolution based on their head i.e. a self-improvement style goal
  • * 31% say they will set a New Year’s Resolution related to their heart - i.e. a relationship or dating goal.

“These are all good areas to focus on in the New Year,” agrees Shapiro. “But the threat with this form of goal-setting is that most of us become centered on where we are heading rather than making the most of where we are right this moment. We give up today in the hope that a far better future can emerge - only to find out that achievement rarely leads to true enjoyment.”

Should you absolutely have to set New Year’s Resolutions, says Shapiro, here is his advice:

1. Choose a wide concept rather than specific measurable goal. “When most people set New Year’s Resolutions, they have distinct, measurable outcomes that they wish to achieve,” says Shapiro. “Lose 15 pounds. Run a marathon. Quit smoking. In doing so, you become myopically focused and shut down additional, more possibly stimulating, opportunities from showing up in your life.”

In lieu of resolutions, he says, choose one or two phrases that will summarize the next year. It serves like a theme for the year rather than a unique goal. “For a friend of mine, this coming year is about ‘service,” says Shapiro, “serving other people in whatever way she can to make a contribution. For someone else, this season is about ‘flow,’ making the year effortless. For a friend who is dealing with a divorce and change of career, his theme is ‘new beginnings’”

2. Select an expansive and empowering theme. Says Shapiro: “Choose a theme that is expansive, gets your juices going, has you fired up, and moves you towards activity. Can’t imagine a theme? What about passion, peace, love, companionship, traveling, or even self-expression? Or even new horizons, adventure, or imagination growth might be a good start. Don’t worry if you haven’t named your aspiration yet -it may well come out of your theme. Rather than sitting around trying to figure out your passion, select a direction that can enable you to experience the idea. If all else fails and you still can’t figure out just what your interest is, then make ‘finding your passion’ your theme.

“Ask yourself: Why? What is the one term you want to use to describe your next year? A good place to start is with your standard resolutions. Then ask yourself the reason why. Want to lose weight? Look at the reasons why. Do you need to be healthier? Would you like to get more self-confidence? In that case, as opposed to going on a diet, ‘health’ or perhaps ‘confidence’ may be good themes.

Suggests Shapiro: “Replace a poor practice with something beneficial. It is tough to quit any kind of bad habit. Whenever you say you wish to give up smoking, the brain ignores the word ‘quit’ and focuses on the word ‘smoking.’ That is all you are able to think about. Everything around you reminds you of the pleasures of smoking cigarettes, causing you to hunger for one final smoke. When dieting, our mind is focused on foods. Most people really feel gloomy aand hungry. We focus on what we can’t have and in the end the diets stop with binge over eating.

“I once was a Diet Coke addict, consuming as much as 5 liters each day. Every time I tried to quit, I would focus on it so much that I would wind up drinking much more. Just what worked? Rather than cutting down my diet coke consumption, I chose to let myself consume as much carbonated beverages as I desired, as long as I drank at least 2 liters of drinking water each day. It doesn’t take that much self-control to drink two liters of water. And by paying attention to my body and how much better I feel, it favorably reinforces the new behavior and helps me detach from the old. Now I find I rarely drink very much coke.”

3. Reflect on the previous 12 months. Advises Shapiro: “Start your resolution-setting routine around the wintertime solstice of each year (December 21). Take time in order to reflect on what you accomplished; the up along with the downs. Be sure to seriously evaluate the effective improvements and encounters you had. The key thing is to not beat yourself up. In life most of us have a tendency to concentrate on wins and losses. Successes and failures. When reflecting about the past, don’t focus on whether you failed or prevailed. Rather, ask yourself, Why? Why did you succeed? Why did you fall short? Only by means of this specific reflection, and by way of adopting these kinds of circumstances, can you learn and grow. And naturally, celebrate your successes.”

4. Develop your theme jointly. “If you are in a relationship, perform these routines jointly,” says Shapiro. “Use this as the chance to appreciate one another. Acknowledge one another for their efforts in the past 12 months. And jointly choose a theme that you would like to pursue together in the next year. This helps make sure that you are playing the same activity, no matter what your specific interests.”

5. Remind yourself of your theme. “This is really a basic compass setting,” states Shapiro. “It does not dictate a unique result and will not imply a particular path or plan. Write your theme on a Post-It Note and stick it on your computer monitor. Write it on your bathroom mirror. Put it anywhere as a fast reminder to what you happen to be about at this moment in time. Resolutions are things to do. Themes are a way to become.”

6. Stay open to new options and to adjustments in course at every point later on. Lastly, concludes Shapiro: “Themes are not set in stone. In the event the theme you selected isn't working, feel free to alter it. Themes are designed to help you experience your life more thoroughly. You should never feel restricted or limited.”




“Under the care of Leo J. Borrell, M.D. since December 2001, I have seen a remarkable improvement in my mother’s condition. She is responding dramatically to the new regiment Dr. Borrell has prescribed”

- Beth Rose


Feb 3, 2008

The Interdisciplinary Team; The Role of the Psychiatrist

by Dr. Leo J. Borrell, featured in Assisted Living Consult for November/December 2006. A HealthCom Media Publication