When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, Tim Pychyl has heard them all.

“A lot of them are health related,” said the personality psychologist at Carleton University.

“They’re about stopping bad behaviours and starting healthy habits — quitting smoking, drinking less, exercising more, eating better, sleeping more and being less stressed.”
And certainly, the proof is there.

“We see a flood of sales for exercise equipment and health-club memberships around New Year’s,” he said.

A new calendar might inspire many to make a fresh start, but no matter what the resolutions are, they will only work with the right attitude, said the renowned procrastination expert, who blogs on procrastination.ca and the Psychology Today website.

“I get a lot of people talking to me about goal-setting and procrastination,” he said. “It’s not just New Year’s.”

Although he said the new year isn’t necessarily a bad time to bring a new goal in, what’s ironic about resolutions is that they’re actually a culturally prescribed form of procrastination, he said.

People are looking to make changes — but not before January.

In making a goal, people have to balance meaning and manageability, he said.

“Most goals lack structure or a manageable plan. We have good intentions, but we don’t have an implementation plan,” he said.

The next step toward success is to realize that there will be negative emotions tied to it, he said.

“If it was easy, you would have done it before,” he said. “You have to recognize that you’re not going to feel more like doing it tomorrow. But we know from research that when you start working on it, it will give you energy to do more.”

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