Why you can’t rely on will power alone in making new year resolutions and promises


   Why you can't rely on will power alone in making new year resolutions and promises
Have you ever made a new year resolution that you ended up breaking barely few days/weeks later? Well if it has never happened to your it has happened to me several times and that’s why I stopped bothering my self with all this new year resolution stuff.
In life its very easy to make promises but when it comes to keeping it you will discover that things are easier said than done. Most of the time we assume that everything depends on will power but most times willpower fails too because everything has its limits .
Here we are: a new year with a new set of New
Years resolutions.To follow through and turn
those resolutions into results, we’re usually
convinced that willpower is the essential
ingredient. But what if the reason we often fail
in our resolutions hinges less on willpower
and more on avoiding temptations right from
the start? That may sound straightforward,
but, as a new study suggests, it’s an
argument that challenges popular wisdom,
and should change how we think about setting
goals now or anytime of year.
Researchers tracked the lives of 159 college
students over the course of a week. Five times
every day a message was sent to the
participants’ smartphones asking them to
report if they were facing temptations, whether
the temptations conflicted with their goals,
and whether they had exercised willpower to
resist the temptations. They were also asked
to report how mentally depleted they were
feeling.
At the end of each day, the participants
completed a diary entry describing their
energy levels—from having a lot left in the
tank to being mentally exhausted. As a wrap-
up, the researchers interviewed the students at
the end of the semester to assess their
progress on four important goals they’d
identified at the start of the study.
The results showed that the participants who
spent the most time flexing their willpower via
self-control made less progress toward their
goals than those who experienced the fewest
temptations. And those who experienced the
most temptations, whether or not they tried
resisting them, reported feeling the most
mentally depleted during the day and drained
at night.
The results offer a few takeaways: (1) trying to
resist temptations via willpower is draining,
(2) simply facing temptations, whether or not
we resist them, is draining and (3) being
mentally drained from experiencing
temptations correlates directly with making
less progress. The key takeaway, then, isn’t to
engage temptation with force of will, but to
avoid temptations from the get-go or at least
minimize exposure whenever possible.
The study also assessed the individual
students’ self-control levels before things got
rolling—and there were of course differences—
but the researchers took those into account to
make sure they didn’t color the results.

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Quoting the researchers: “Against popular and
scientific wisdom, effortful self-control did not
appear to play a role in goal-pursuit,
suggesting that the immediate positive
consequences of exerting willpower do not
translate into long-term goal success.”
As simple as this sounds, it runs counter to
the cult of willpower that dominates thinking
on reaching goals. We tend to think that
overcoming temptation is all about self-
control, as if self-control, wielded with enough
force of will, can overcome any temptation.
Disproving that argument is as easy as
walking into a grocery store hungry.
Beyond our typical self-control challenges,
we’re also increasingly facing the challenge of
managing our attention. Focusing is hard
under the best conditions, but trying to focus
with a smartphone nearby, a web browser
open, a television blaring—all of the above
and more—is plainly insane. And yet some
flavor of that distraction stew is what we’re
operating in every day. What this and similar
studies suggest is that our self-sabotage
begins well before we try fending off
distractions with self-control. Just as it’s a
bad idea to walk into a grocery store hungry,
it’s folly to think you’ll focus with tempting
digital distractions playing for your attention.
That said, it’s a little ironic that the data
gathering method used in this study was
pinging the students’ smartphones. But the
point remains: every ping, alert, message,
whatever, is a tiny temptation, and collectively
they’re a big one. We can’t change that now
baked-in fact of life, but we can—and really,
we have to—develop better ways of managing
it.
So the best thing to do is to eliminate distractions instead of deceiving yourself by living in the midst of your weaknesses while relying on your will power which can fail you. E.g If you are a smoker and your new year resolution or promise is to stop smoking, please avoid friends and environments that entice you into smoking insteading of going to the club where everyone is smoking hoping that some – how your will power can come to your rescue. Happy new year friends
Psychologytoday

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