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New year resolutions vs wishful thinking


new year resolutions
Photo: Verne Ho / Unsplash


Are you going to make any new year’s resolutions this year?

If so, I’d like to tell you about the difference between a resolution and wishful thinking.

A few years ago, a study compared people who had committed to a new year resolution vs. people who had wished for a change to happen.

By the end of June, change was ten times more frequent among people who had made a commitment.

Good, you say. But, in practical terms, what’s the difference between a wish and a commitment?


Wishing is passive. Commitment is active.

When you wish for something to happen, you hope that things will go well on their own. If things don’t go well, there’s no “Plan B.”  You won’t get what you wished for.

In other words, wishful thinking will get you nowhere. All it does is make you feel powerless: “It would be so nice if things happened magically, without having to fight for what I want.”

In contrast, feeling committed means that:
- you have a sense that things need not be easy
- and you’re ready to fight for what you want.

So, what is it that’s going to make that kind of commitment possible?


Commitment is not something you can fake.

I’m not saying: “Pretend to be more committed.” I’m saying: “Give yourself a chance to feel how much you want what you want.”

And how do you do that?

Let yourself see it, want it, taste it, smell it,

Creative visualization is a great way to be pulled from where you are toward your goal. Let yourself imagine what it would be like to have achieved what you want. Picture the results. Let yourself feel how good it would feel. Let yourself bask in the dream.

Capture a snapshot of this image. Of course, you can’t do so with a camera. But write a few sentences to capture that image. And save these words.

There will be plenty of times, in the next few weeks, when you have moments of doubt, or when the goal doesn’t seem like it’s worth the effort. At those times, pull that sheet of paper and revisit the dream. Let it inspire you to do what it takes to get there.


See also: Three mindful steps to make successful new year resolutions


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