London Business School Prof Questions Value of New Year’s Resolutions

London Business School New Years Resolution

A professor of organizational behavior at London Business School recently wrote an article addressing the notion that scrapping New Year’s resolutions could be the key to achieving the goals that we set for ourselves.

Professor Madan Pillutla, in City A.M., wrote, “By making resolutions, we impose limits on ourselves. If these limits are very strict (for example I will go to the gym five times a week), and we fail them (it is Wednesday already, and I have not gone to the gym), we are likely to overindulge. We think the week is shot anyway.”

Pillutla describes this phenomenon as the “what the hell effect”, in which we overindulge after succeeding a limit that we’ve set for ourselves. He wrote, “The [effect] is strongest when we make resolutions which are a tall order. These resolutions are the most dangerous for three reasons. First, we are more likely to overindulge as we inevitably over-step, over-ambitious, self-set limits. Second, we are likely to take longer to get back on the wagon, waiting until next week or next month. Third, we are far more likely to give up entirely, because we consider it a failure if we have not stuck to these strict limits from day one. We quickly conclude that the whole year is shot!”

Pillutla points out that despite the statistic of one quarter of all New Year’s resolutions being broken during the first week of January, 60% of us will make the same one next year. He offers the advice of starting with small changes, and acknowledging that change is difficult. He also notes the importance of examining our past failures in order to discern what goals are realistic.

“Avoid using occasional lapses as an invitation to fall off the wagon.” he advised.


About the Author

Maggie Boccella

Maggie Boccella, a lifelong resident of Philadelphia, is a freelance writer, artist and photographer. She has consulted on various film and multimedia projects, and she also serves as a juror for the city's annual LGBTQIA Film Festival.

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