Thank you Justin Holcomb for alerting us to the amazing little piece that appeared in the NY Times on New Year’s Eve! Entitled “New Year, New You? Nice Try”, the article explores the dynamics of New Years resolutions. The question of how/if people change is a recurring one on this blog, and at the risk of being a buzz-kill…:

“In a season of change, in a year of change, most people who embark on a journey of self-renewal can expect anything but. Research shows that about 80 percent of people who make resolutions on Jan. 1 fall off the wagon by Valentine’s Day, according to Marti Hope Gonzales, an associate professor of psychology at the University of Minnesota.

Such revelations will hardly come as a surprise to the repeat offenders and recidivists — that is, most of us — who year after year make, and break, the same resolutions.”

Dr. Edward D. Miller, the dean of the medical faculty at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said more than 70 percent of coronary bypass patients revert to unhealthy habits within two years of their operation. Dr. Dean Ornish, the cardiologist and diet author, frequently cites a conclusion by a panel of nutritional experts convened in 1992 by the National Institutes of Health that two-thirds of dieters gain back any lost weight within a year.

For five straight years, Ms. Leavitt broke her New Year’s resolution to stop biting her nails. “I went to a nail salon and had fake nails put on, I bit those,” she said. “I tried Lee press-on nails, I bit those off. I tried the stuff where you paint on nails, I bit those off. I even tried psychological stuff — ‘If I bite my nails, terrible stuff is going to happen to me, I’m not going to sell my novel.’ Nothing worked.”

In the end, Ms. Leavitt said, she overcame her habit after visiting a hypnotherapist. “The hypnosis didn’t work, either,” she added, “but something he said did: that I would always want to bite my nails, but the key was that I would want pretty nails more. He was right. I still want to chew my nails to the nubs, but I keep admiring my hands instead.”