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It’s easy to come up with a long list of resolutions when you’re surrounded by presents and overstuffed with turkey - but how long will they last?

When faced with cold, blustery weather in the third week of January, the last thing most of want to do is eat salad or head to the gym. This is often the point when most New Year’s Resolutions fail, with many of us throwing in the towel by February.

According to research by Statistic Brain1, only 9% people felt they were successful in achieving their resolution. However, studies2 show there’s still a chance you could hit your targets. Psychologist Dr John Norcross said3: “You are 10 times more likely to change by making a New Year’s resolution compared to non-resolvers with the identical goals and comparable motivation to change.” Here, we give you a rundown of the most popular resolutions with tips and tricks on how to succeed.

What are the most common New Year's resolutions?

According to a recent Statistic Brain poll4, the most common New Year's resolutions include:
  1. Lose Weight / Healthier Eating
  2. Life / Self Improvements
  3. Better Financial Decisions
  4. Quit Smoking
  5. Do more exciting things
  6. Spend More Time with Family / Close Friends
  7. Work out more often
  8. Learn something new on my own
  9. Do more good deeds for others
  10. Find the love of my life

How can I stick to my New Year’s resolutions?

Commit financially

If you add money to the mix, you may take your goals more seriously. A recent study5 showed that people who promised to pay cash if they didn’t meet their weight loss goals lost a stone more than those with no financial motivation.

Break your goal into smaller targets

It’s easy to get overwhelmed with one huge goal and set yourself up to fail before you’ve even started. Instead, split the goal so it’s easier to achieve. For example, if your goal is to lose 3 stone, break this down to 2 pounds a week or half a stone each month so you’re more likely to stay focused.

Track your resolution

If you find yourself flagging, it can help to see how far you’ve come. Make a record of the date you started, the goal you’ve committed to and make regular updates on your progress. Simply write it in a notebook, use a tracker app on your phone or keep it somewhere in plain view like on the front your fridge.

Be realistic and specific

Don’t get carried away and set goals that are doomed to failure. If you have a busy lifestyle, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to stick to working out at the gym seven days a week. Plus, simply resolving to get fitter by joining a gym is quite vague. The trick is to set a realistic goal you can achieve within a certain timescale so you’ve got something to aim for. For instance, motivate yourself to improve your fitness by making a resolution to complete a 5 mile (8 km) run within an hour by the May bank holiday.

Steer clear of diets and eat healthily instead

Some say that a ‘diet’ is not the best route to weight loss. In fact, one study6 suggested that going on a “diet” could cause weight gain in the long term. In order to lose weight, aim to feed your body with nutritious healthy food and exercise. Short-term diets that involve heavily cutting out calories or certain food groups are often harder to stick to. In most cases, managing your weight involves changing your lifestyle and eating habits in a way you can stick to.

Set yourself up to succeed

Research7 has shown that sticking to the same routine can make it a struggle to break away from old habits. If you’re dedicated to achieving your goals make some changes around you so they’re easier to accomplish. For weight loss and healthier eating, don’t walk near fast food places, clear your cupboards of unhealthy food and make small changes to trick your mind that you’re eating less. Studies8 show that using a smaller plate tricks your brain into feeling just as full with less calories. “Just changing to smaller plates at home can help reduce how much you serve yourself and how much you eat,” says Natalina Zlatevska PhD of Bond University, Australia.

Reward yourself

So, you’ve managed to cut down on smoking, lose a few pounds or managed to save money. Whenever you’re a step closer to completing your main resolution, you deserve a small reward to keep yourself motivated. Try to choose something related to your goal. For example, if you’ve lost weight treat yourself to some new clothes or if you’re sticking to your gym workouts, get yourself a new drinking bottle.

Don’t be too hard on yourself

It’s only natural to fall off the wagon sometimes, but that’s no excuse to give up all together. Learn from your mistakes and get back on track.

Whilst it’s true that New Year’s Resolutions can be daunting, making them realistic and manageable often means you’ll be more likely to stick to them throughout the year. Don’t forget to reward yourself every time you make progress and in a year’s time you’ll be glad you never gave up.

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  1. . www.yougov.co.uk/news/2015/01/16/63-brits-are-planning-make-new-year-resolutions/
  2. . www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/m/pubmed/11920693/
  3. . Google Books - http://bit.ly/2ifAFzk
  4. . www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/
  5. . www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3298019/
  6. . www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3759019/
  7. . www.ucl.ac.uk/news/news-articles/0908/0908040/
  8. . www.foodpsychology.cornell.edu/JACR/Small_Plates_Lose_Weight

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