Keep Your Commitments to New Year’s Resolutions, Even When Your Friends Don’t.

New Year’s resolutions are great — you have the perfect excuse to work on your habits and behavior. However, not everyone can keep up the self-discipline it takes to build new habits — especially when their social circle pressures them not to.Power button

There’s lots of ways that your friends can get in the way of your resolutions. Sometimes, it’s clear and direct: you might pick up a new hobby and experience jokes about it because it doesn’t “fit” with their ideas of who you are. For example, maybe you decide to take some vocal lessons and learn to sing, but your friends know you as a real jock. It might start as small jokes you can ignore, but escalate into direct discouragement or even more cruelly intentioned attacks. When you start to notice such a shift, you should try addressing the issue with your friends. If they persist, it might be time to consider some new friends. Remember, your interests are your interests. Friends are meant to share them with you, not decide them for you.

Other times, the social pressure may be more subtle or indirect. Your friends may discourage a new habit unintentionally. These situations can be even harder to deal with than direct discouragement. Suppose your resolution is to finish two books a month, and in order to do so, you need to spend a couple afternoons each week reading. If you’ve already got a lot going on with sports, clubs or homework, keeping this kind of resolution may mean less time to spend with your friends. They may discourage you from reading — not because they think it’s wrong, but because they miss spending time with you. Fortunately, if you help them understand why you’re so excited about your new habit, good friends will come to accept and even admire your diligence. 

Another situation is one where you make a resolution with a friend. You may both decide that you’re going to start going to the gym regularly together. At first things are great, but by the end of the month your workout buddy has decided they’ve had enough. When you carry on, they may feel jealous and try to get you to stop: “C’mon you know we weren’t really going to keep that up! Who wants to waste all that time getting sweaty anyway? Let’s go to the mall!” As the last situation mentioned, just stick to your resolution. In this case though, be careful not to make your friend feel bad for giving up!

Social pressure is a sneaky obstacle to keeping your resolutions because it’s “invisible” and often lurks in the guise of jokes. As long as you keep a sharp lookout for it, you’ll have no problem. Just remember, not all jokes are intended as social pressure. Sometimes your friends really are just having fun, and they don’t want to see you change. Once in a while, it’s okay to let it slide and laugh at yourself!