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New Year's Resolutions: To Make or Not to Make? Pros and Cons to Consider.

The value of New Year's resolutions depends on the individual and how they approach goal-setting. Here are some perspectives on whether New Year's resolutions are worth it:



Pros:

  1. Symbolic Fresh Start: The beginning of a new year can provide a symbolic fresh start, motivating individuals to make positive changes in your life.

  2. Goal Setting: Resolutions encourage individuals to set specific goals, fostering a sense of direction and purpose.

  3. Community Support: The cultural emphasis on New Year's resolutions creates a shared experience, and the support of friends and family can make it easier to stick to goals.

  4. Self-Reflection: Setting resolutions often involves reflecting on personal values and priorities, promoting self-awareness. Here are two questions you might consider:

What does optimal health mean to me?

This question encourages you to define and articulate your personal understanding of what it means to be healthy. Consider aspects such as physical well-being, mental and emotional health, and any specific lifestyle factors that contribute to your overall sense of health. Your answer can reveal the values and priorities you associate with a healthy life.

Why is achieving this health goal important to me?

Understanding the underlying motivations for your health goal can provide insights into your values and priorities. Consider the deeper reasons behind your desire for improved health. Whether it's to enhance your energy levels, be more present for loved ones, or prevent future health issues, exploring the "why" behind your goal can connect you with your core values.

5. Positive Habits: Successfully achieving resolutions can lead to the development of positive habits that contribute to long-term well-being.


Cons:

  1. Unrealistic Expectations: Setting overly ambitious or unrealistic resolutions can lead to frustration and disappointment when they are not achieved.

  2. All-or-Nothing Thinking: Some individuals may adopt an "all-or-nothing" mindset, which can be detrimental if they perceive any deviation from their resolution as a failure. In nutrition counseling this can lead to binge restrict cycles, weight cycling, and mental health issues.

  3. Short-Term Focus: Resolutions often focus on short-term goals, and some people may struggle to develop self discipline out of short term motivation. Fostering sustainable habits will lead to better results.

  4. Peer Pressure: The cultural expectation to make resolutions can create pressure, leading individuals to set goals that may not align with their true desires or readiness for change. Many of us have the collective expereince of wishing we hadn't done out first diet, for example.

  5. Lack of Planning: Failure to create a realistic plan and establish specific steps to achieve resolutions can contribute to their abandonment. Many people decide a few days before to accomplish a goal without planning realistic or attainable steps. This haphazard attempt at improving health may leave you feeling defeated like the goal itself was unattainable, but in reality, the steps were not planned accordingly.


Nerd Alert: What Happens Neurobiologically When we Perceive Failing at Achieving a Goal?



When we perceive that we have failed to achieve a goal, various psychological and neural processes come into play. Here's an overview of what happens in the brain when we experience the feeling of failure:

  1. Activation of Reward and Pleasure Centers: Initially, when we set a goal, the brain's reward centers, particularly the nucleus accumbens, become activated. This is associated with the anticipation of the reward or positive outcome linked to achieving the goal.

  2. Release of Neurotransmitters: Dopamine, a neurotransmitter associated with reward and pleasure, is released during goal pursuit. Success in achieving a goal is often accompanied by increased dopamine levels, reinforcing positive feelings.

  3. Impact on Self-Esteem: When we perceive that we have failed to achieve a goal, it can lead to a decrease in self-esteem. The brain areas associated with self-worth and self-image, such as the prefrontal cortex, may be involved in processing these emotions.

  4. Activation of the Amygdala: The amygdala, a region associated with emotions, including fear and stress, may become activated. Failure can trigger negative emotions, and the amygdala plays a role in the emotional processing of such events.

  5. Stress Response: The perception of failure can trigger the release of stress hormones, such as cortisol. Elevated cortisol levels are associated with the body's physiological stress response, which can impact mood and overall well-being.

  6. Prefrontal Cortex Involvement: The prefrontal cortex, responsible for decision-making and executive functions, is engaged in evaluating the outcomes and consequences of our actions. When a goal is perceived as failed, this region may contribute to processing the disappointment and analyzing what went wrong.

  7. Learning and Adaptation: Failure can be seen as an opportunity for learning and adaptation. The brain may engage in processes that help us understand the reasons behind the failure, enabling us to adjust strategies and behaviors for future goal pursuit.


Because of these reasons, it is VERY important to set realistic or SMART goals. Ultimately, the effectiveness of New Year's resolutions depends on your mindset, commitment, and approach to goal-setting. If approached with realistic expectations, a clear plan, and a focus on sustainable change, setting resolutions can be a positive and constructive way to work towards personal growth and improvement.


Need support in goal setting, planning, or accountability? Book a complimentary session NOW to be ready for the new year.


PS- Don't forget to download the free 21 Day New Year Meal Prep Guide while it's still available.


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