New Year’s Resolutions: AKA Rebirth

As a society, we welcome and celebrate New Year’s Resolutions because…

New beginnings are emotionally comforting.

New beginnings more easily show us possibilities of enacting positive change in our lives than “old beginnings”.  Old beginnings usually reflect insanity: doing the same thing repeatedly while expecting different results.

We love to watch the rebirth/hero’s journey archetype infinitely reappear in our favorite films, TV series, and novels. New Year’s Resolutions are one way we can all connect with our OWN rebirth stories in which we are the heroes. We say to ourselves, “this year will BE DIFFERENT BECAUSE I resolve to…”

In this post, I will explain…

  • How your resolutions can go from THEORY to PRACTICE to MANIFESTATION by highlighting the psychological needs for motivation, and…
  • How you can work on your resolutions in an ongoing manner without them needing to be isolated “to do’s” that cause more stress than peace of mind.


Self Determination Theory argues that every human has basic psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness. These needs serve to support our motivation for behavioral change both in the short term AND the long term, i.e., initiation and maintenance of change (La Guardia, 2017).

A core reason that New Year’s Resolutions die out is because they were “pressure oriented”. “Pressure Oriented” decisions can be both externally and internally generated.

  • External examples involve: Feeling pressure to achieve a reward or avoid punishment.
  • Internal examples involve: “I should” or “I have to” in order to maintain self-worth or avoid feeling guilty.

“Pressure oriented” motivators can initiate and effectively jump start behavior change. However, they will NOT support the maintenance of those behaviors. On the contrary, when your needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness are being met it is because you are driven to act based on what you perceive to be of value, interest, and enjoyment.

  • Ask yourself: Are my resolutions personally relevant and meaningful? “When people deeply value the behaviors they are engaging in, they feel interested and energized and are more likely to actively engage in those behaviors without even being prompted” (La Guardia, 2017, p. 18).
  • Ask yourself: Are my resolutions realistic? Who can help me grow the skills/abilities that are the focus of my resolutions? How will I measure my growth?
  • Ask yourself: Do my social circles support my pursuit of growth unconditionally? If not, how can I adjust my environment in ways that are increasing my interactions with family and friends that help me to feel close, connected, and valued?

BEING your resolutions Vs. DOING your resolutions

BEING your resolutions is contingent upon self-awareness, self-regulation, and self-reflection.

  • Start noticing how your thoughts influence your feelings which influence your behaviors.
  • The more aware you can become of your thoughts and feelings as they are happening and influencing one another, the better you get at behaving proactively in alignment with your resolutions, as opposed to reactively, which usually is in conflict with your resolutions
  • Self-awareness is primarily cultivated in the present moment in order to intentionally self-regulate our behaviors. However, we are not perfect and are always a work in progress (this is the reason we make yearly resolutions). Therefore, self-reflection is the act of reviewing and evaluating what occurred, so we can behave more effectively in the future.

Body, Craft, MIND

Performance Psychologist Michael Gervais is fond of saying: “You can only train three things: your body, your craft, and your mind.” This post gives you some guidance on how to prepare and train your mind, so you can manifest your health and wellness resolutions.

“If an egg is broken by outside force, life ends. If broken by inside force, life begins. Great things always begin from inside” -Jim Kwik

Leave a Comment

Keep reading for insights on learning, performance, and growth.

Get Performance Psychology Insights Sent Weekly

Join the E2E Insights Newsletter for the latest on personal/professional learning, growth, and development from Jared Cohen.