Research by Yougov in 2015 found that 63% of Britons intended to make a new year resolution. The survey found that more women intended to lose weight (40%) than men (29%). 5% of Brits said they planned to give up smoking and 11% wanted to stop drinking or reduce their alcohol intake. However 32% of respondents said their resolutions are usually broken by the end of January, while only 10% stated they never break their New Year resolutions.
How can we be more successful in keeping our new year resolutions?
1. Choose something you really want to change. If you are making a resolution to please someone else, your motivation is not as great as something you really want to do for you.
2. Be realistic. People are used to setting SMART targets at work (i.e. specific, measurable, achievable realistic and time-bound) but tend to overlook these qualities when choosing personal goals. Psychological research shows that small changes in behaviour are easier to achieve than large ones, so breaking your goal into a number of smaller targets is more likely to lead to success. Research also show that will power can be dissipated by too many challenges, so don’t try too to make many changes at once.
3. Plan your success. If your new behaviour involves specific action (e.g. writing a novel) then plan when that is going to happen in your schedule. If it involves doing something less, e.g. drinking less, you can alter your schedule so there is less temptation by planning alternative social events to those based around alcohol. You can also plan for what to do when obstacles arise, so you are not thrown by circumstances such as bad weather affecting your morning run, or telephone calls interrupting your writing time.
4. Keep going. Habits take time to change – a study by Philppa Lally at University College London found subjects took an average of 66 days to adopt a new habit, with the length of time to change ranging from 18 to 254 days. Missing a day did not make any difference so if you do have a setback don’t give up.
5 Engage your unconscious. Looking inward can help identify why we sabotage our resolutions. This can be because of emotional needs we are trying to meet through unhealthy behaviour. A counsellor or hypnotherapist can help identify those needs and find healthier ways of meeting them. For food cravings, Constant Craving: What Your Food Cravings Mean and How to Overcome Them by Doreen Virtue is a good resource. Daily affirmations or self-hypnosis recordings can also reinforce your new behaviour.
I am conducting my own research on what helps people to keep their new year resolutions. If you would like to help, please complete a short survey at: