New Year's resolution - make a will

Date: Dec 29, 2011

At this time of year it is common for people to sit down and give some serious thought to how the previous 12 months have passed by.

More to the point, this reflection serves as a base for individuals to give some serious thought to the aims and goals they accomplished and how their behaviour has impacted on these aspirations.

Further, many people use this time to clarify their hopes for the New Year and map out a plan towards achieving them.

According to researchers, the fact that this practice enjoys widespread popularity around the globe has its basis in science.

Professor of psychology at Deakin University, Bob Cummins, says that the thought processes that accompany making a New Year's resolutions actively makes people "to feel good about ourselves".

Cummins explained: "The end of the year constitutes a kind of secular absolution that people earnestly say to themselves and their friends and their dear ones, 'I'm going to change'.

"This turns them into not only a good person because they've got these good ideas, but it also makes them feel very good because they're absolved of their sins during the past year and they're not going to do these things any more."

The professor also said that - while making a statement of intention just to feel good could be viewed as selfish - the act of declaring a New Year's resolution was a very good thing.

This is because the statement itself forces us to focus on and reassess our past behaviour to fit in line with what we truly value.

"If things happen to us that make us feel bad, we immediately start to turn them around to make them into something different so that we can feel good about them," said Cummins.

With these two points in mind, it becomes clear that the end of the year could be ideal for the estate planning process.

A strong focus on values and aspiration for family and friends and a fresh assessment of where they'd like to be in 12 months' time, can give a will's author a sense of purpose and invigoration over the New Year.

As professor Cummins put it: "One of the fundamental features of human beings is that we need to feel good about ourselves. It's a very, very strong need that we have."