New Year’s resolutions+Economics
Happy New Year everyone. I think it is worth mentioning that there have been some major changes in our lives, as I am sure there has been in yours as well. In October of last year, my family and I began the transition to living abroad in Costa Rica. I am happy to say that we are finally settled.
In thinking of this new year, many of us, myself included, have begun to think of what we would like to do differently in the next year. Thinking, no doubt, of what has not worked in the past, as well as our hopes and desires for the future.
I love the way the ancients viewed this process of the old self dying and the new self being born out of the ashes.
I think another thing that the ancients were wise to was that the process takes death. Maybe that was their primitive way of saying lots of hard work, as we know keeping New Year’s resolutions also take.
As one Business Insider article put it, 80% of new year’s resolutions fail by mid-February. Maybe this is something that you have experienced firsthand. I am sure that each of us has struggled to keep some kind of commitment in our own lives.
Why are they so hard though?
Why is it that the hopefulness of the New Year can give way to defeat by mid-February?
I wonder if we are fighting against economic principles and really have no reason to be frustrated at all.
Maybe gains happen along a Pareto Distribution. 80% of the gain happens in the first 20% of the time, when the gains (rewards we are seeking) seriously slow down. The gains could be anything from weight loss (in the case of a diet) to strength gains (from exercise).
As we try to keep our commitments, each unit of gain becomes more and more expensive in terms of time or other non-monetary resources. The law of diminishing returns kicks in… and it’s all downhill from there.
I can remember my dad telling me one time that it is incredibly hard for someone to change themselves, even only 5%. He is a psychologist and has spent many hours working with people.
I am sure many people throughout the years have felt sadness over failing to keep their resolutions or commitments, as I have in the past.
So, in going into the new year, here are a few suggestions that might be helpful.
- Give yourself some grace.
One definition of Grace is undeserved favor. I really like that because it takes some of the pressure off of us. Giving yourself grace does not mean that we should not hold ourselves to no standard at all. It simply means that we should not expect ourselves hold to a New Year’s resolution when the vast majority of others do not.
- Start small.
The phycologist Carl Jung had this idea that “the fool was the precursor to the savior”. What he meant by that was that when we try something, we will start by doing it badly. King Solomon also wrote something similar in Proverbs 15:33 … “humility comes before honor”.
- Give others around you grace
We truly all are in this boat called life together. In the same way we struggle, those around us, those closest to us, go through the same ups and down. Let this be the year we all do what we can to help those who we come in contact with.