College of Liberal Arts

New Year, Same You: Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Wed, Dec 12, 2018
Image courtesy of U.S. Navy and the
Image courtesy of U.S. Navy and the "Keep What You've Earned" campaign

After we’ve spent all our money on gifts and stuffed ourselves to the brim with endless holiday treats, it’s no wonder many of us see the new year as an opportunity to become a little less broke and little more fit. But come next December, most of us will find ourselves back in the same routine, pining for another opportunity to start fresh. 

We’ve all heard the saying, “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” So why then, year after year, do we make New Year’s resolutions that, for most of us, won’t last through February? How can we end this cycle of insanity?

University of Texas at Austin psychology professor Art Markman says it’s all about training our brains to replace old habits with new habits — which is easier said than done,“especially when we’re fighting against millions of years of evolution that have created mechanisms that want us to maintain our behaviors.”

“The more you understand about how the brain motivates you to act, the more effectively you can help yourself to act in new ways,” says Markman, who taught us a little more about habits and offered us some advice on how to be more successful with our New Year’s resolutions in a Q&A for Life & Letters. 

WATCH: How to make a New Year’s resolution stick.


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