Chris Wilkinson

Chris Wilkinson column: New Year’s resolutions like a rebound relationship, and that’s not a bad thing

As you’ve heard, the success stats on resolutions are not good

Resolutions are made after what is usually the darkest and unhealthiest stretch of overeating, overdrinking, sedentary, TV-filled, self-loathing period of the year. If that was a relationship, we’d want to break up. We’d be sick of the pain and discomfort. And what often happens after breakup? A rebound.

So, it got me thinking — are resolutions just like a rebound relationship?

Resolutions are made after a dark period; rebounds happen after a dark period. Resolutions are seeking an opposite to what happened in the past; rebounds often seek an opposite to who happened in the past; resolutions are meant to help us feel better; rebounds are meant to help us feel better. Resolutions are rarely successful; rebounds are rarely successful. The parallels could go on and on…

As you’ve heard, the success stats on resolutions are not good. Surveys show that more than 80 per cent of people fail at their New Year’s resolutions by mid-February. And less than 10 per cent are successful at year end. This is not new. An editorial in the Worcester Journal of January 6, 1883 (yes, 1883!) stated, “It unfortunately happens that New Year’s Day resolutions are often of the most transitory kind, and they pass away almost with the mists of the morning on which they are formed.” The editorial offers the idea it would be better not to make any resolutions “for there is nothing so destructive of self-respect as the abandonment of purposes for self-discipline which had been deliberately formed and openly avowed”. So, we’ve known for more than 150 years how weak and non-binding New Year’s resolutions can be.

Out of curiosity, what do the stats on rebound relationships say? Experts indicate that 65-90 per cent of rebound relationships fail within the first three months. So, about the same as resolutions.

Could it be some of the same reasoning behind failed resolutions as for failed rebound relationships? As crazy and different as the two seem at first, there could be something here!

Looking for something different. Looking to get some mojo and confidence back. Trying something new. Looking to feel sexy again. Energetic. Motivated. Inspired. Wanting a shift to something different. There are many commonalities.

Rebounders are a bad idea then? Not according to Theresa Didonato Ph.D., a social psychologist and professor of psychology at Loyola University. She states that people who dive in to rebound relationships get over their ex-partners quicker and feel more confident in their ability to date.

So again, if we apply the idea of a rebound relationship to health resolutions, perhaps it’s still a good idea to focus on resolutions and health goals in January, even if it doesn’t lead to long term healthy changes. Perhaps the shift is just what one needs to get back to baseline. Getting their mojo back. Re-energized and reinvigorated. And the likelihood of keeping some of the habit changes and healthier routine is likely high.

The best thing about resolutions is that you don’t regret the healthy changes that come out of the effort. There isn’t the down side or regret.

Perhaps the skinny (sorry, couldn’t help it) of it here is that even if resolutions don’t last, making a shift is still better than making no shift at all. Changing some unhealthy habits into healthy ones, even if only for a month, is still better than not having the healthy habits at all. And I’ll bet that even if a habit isn’t kept, there is still learning and some sort of healthy change that sticks around.

I’m for them! Make your shifts. Keep at least some small change from them. Even if the overarching goal isn’t met. Set a bar that is more attainable next time, like micro-goals rather than giant goals. Get some wins on the smaller goals and build your win column. Reflect on the wins and celebrate the wins. Keep the smaller promises to yourself and feel your confidence with achieving some smaller wins start to build! That’s a great way to get to bigger wins. It’s likely the most effective and sure-fire way to get to the bigger wins. Enjoy a rebound with your resolutions!

Chris Wilkinson is the owner/GM for Nurse Next Door Home Care Services for Cowichan and central Vancouver Island. For more info visit or for questions or a free in-home Caring Consult call 250-748-4357, or email