The end of the year is a time to review and take stock. The news media recounts the major events of the last 12 months, and makes lists of the public figures who have died. And we, as individuals, think about our own lives. What happened to us over the last year? What went right? What went wrong? What can we do to make next year better?
Even after good years there is always a little sadness because the passage of time reminds us we are mortal. So resolutions for the new year inevitably involve renewed commitment to healthy habits: quit smoking, exercise more, lose weight. Unsurprisingly, given that the new year comes after a month of heavy holiday eating, a commitment to lose weight is the most common new year resolution of all.
For most people, the commitment doesn’t last. Good intentions translate into a burst of short-term effort followed by discouragement, self-recrimination, and finally giving up. You stop even trying, for a while, anyway.
It doesn’t have to be like that.