Why are New Year resolutions so hard to keep?

Newton The Great said:


Holy inertia.

New year, new you? Stop kidding, you say that every year.

Working more, eating less, exercising, reading classics (I have been struggling with this for years), socialising, figuring out life, being a better person.. you tell yourself to do so much on  December  31, XXXn but as you enter XXX(n+1) these things become goals for XXX(n+2).. for XXX(n+3)… XXX(n+4) and then, you die (unless you have horcruxes).

Who is to be  blamed?dopamine_chemical_structure

This beautiful thing in your brain that basically makes you human and makes you love chocolate. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter in your brain that makes you happy. However, the sad part is it is the reason why people get addicted to certain thing. Dopamine invokes the reward motivated behaviour in you. Whenever you do something that you recognise as being “default”, Dopamine is released and it give you a sense of achievement.

Obviously, we continue to do things that give us the sensation of pleasure although they might actually not. It is a myth that habits that physically give us pleasure such as sleeping 10 hours a day are harder to break just because we enjoy doing such things. A habit such as nail biting (which gives you no sense of enjoyment) is as hard to break. Why? Because the brain is used to it. You have been doing that for quite some time now and although it makes no sense, you get the sensation of reward. This is because the brain gets a reward for doing something that is usually done and thus releases dopamine.

img_20161231_193834921Additionally, habits are hard to break because they don’t “just” have to be broken. It is a process which initiates with contemplation and motivation, goes on to action, ending with maintenance. This being such a long process, even if a person is able to quit something for some time , he/she is not able to maintain it.

This is the reason why the probability of changing increases with each attempt. For example, in your first attempt to exercise you plan out how you are going to manage time, keep motivated etc. However in the last minute, you read somewhere “weight is just a number” and back off.

Second attempt: Plan is ready, motivational posters on the wall, you go running. You run for a week, see no results, get demotivated and back off.

Third attempt: Plan ready, your brain is ready now that you have to run for more than a week.

Ultimately the goal is reached because with every attempt number of steps covered increases.


Another thing is that we reach goals too high (in relative terms) for ourselves. It is proven that when the brain is made to take difficult decisions, it just get backs to what it has previously known and is used to. Therefore, stop torturing your brain. It will go nowhere. Increase the difficulty level gradually.

So if you are really interested in changing something about you in the new year, try at least four times (the probability does increase), start off small and have force strong enough to not let the inertia take over.

Fun fact: 40% of what you do everyday is habitual.

Freaky fact: The most common habit is excessive screen time which increases the likelihood of dying upto 52%.


img_20161231_193816542~ Happy Earth’s zero displacement relative to the Sun! (not very precisely) ~


Have a stupid question? Comment or email me at iotatimesinfinity@gmail.com




2 thoughts on “Why are New Year resolutions so hard to keep?

Add yours

  1. Start lifting the calf till it turns to a bull instead of starting with the bull :P. Why choose new year for a new start though, every second is a new second,every minute a new minute,every hour a new hour and every day a new day!

    P.s that last comic is hilarious


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