By Carrie Sloan
The Rumor: Family patterns are almost impossible to change, whether they're healthy or not
You and your family members have been doing a certain dance for decades, and everyone knows their footwork. The minute you try to change it up, you’re going to step on toes. This is especially true around the holidays, when we tend to revert to our 12-year-old selves. “You go back to your original dynamics,” says Karen Sherman, Ph.D., a psychologist and relationship specialist in Long...
If you're trying to pay down your credit cards, quit smoking, get a new job, find a mate, or shed some excess poundage, abandoning New Year's resolutions won't get you off the hook.
But by setting more realistic goals for yourself and not limiting yourself to a once-a-year, do-or-die, all-out assault on that Everest of debt, those flabby thighs, or the hideous wallpaper you keep meaning to replace, you may find that the finish line isn't so far away after all.
Or as the Rolling Stones put it, "you can't always get what you want, but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need."
Popular New Year's Resolutions
According to USA.gov, the nation's official Web portal, Americans commonly resolve every January to:
The Web site doesn't cite the sources for these popular New Year's resolutions, nor do they offer statistics on how often they are broken. But as the poet Robert Burns, author of "Auld Lang Syne," famously observed, "The best laid plans o' mice and men [often go astray]."
"The cycle is deprive yourself, and then binge and make up for it," says Elizabeth Zelvin, LCSW, an online therapist who helps people with eating disorders.
"New Years after New Years, millions of Americans make a resolution to go on a diet, and a diet is a way of eating that feels so depriving that you can hardly wait to get to the end of it so you can go back to doing what you did before," she tells WebMD.
Some resolution-makers last a week keeping their New Year's resolutions, and some stick it out all the way to Feb. 1, but very few manage to achieve their goal weight, Zelvin says.
As a therapist, Zelvin also deals with people who have substance abuse problems, and she says that the principles of 12-step programs are practical and effective guides to living, especially with their emphasis on setting attainable goals.
"'One day at a time' is the antithesis of making New Year's resolutions," she says. "It's not saying, 'I'm going to do this and keep it up all year,' it's saying, 'What can I do today?'"