Resolving How to Keep Those Resolutions

by DavalosMcCormack on December 29, 2007

For millions of Americans, heck, millions of people all around the world, this is the time of year when optimism triumphs over reality. At least for a while! It’s a time of year when we resolve to be better, healthier, lighter, even smarter in the coming year. But now a team of psychologists have come up with some ways to help you keep your resolve, and your resolutions.

The psychologists, led by Richard Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire in England, looked at more than 3,000 people who had made a variety of resolutions, ranging from quitting smoking to losing weight.

The first thing they say is don’t leave it till New Year’s Eve to decide what your resolutions for the next year are going to be. The sooner you decide, the more time you have to think if that’s really what you want to do. It also gives you more time to devise a plan for how you are going to do it.

Here’s the bad news. At the start 52 percent of those interviewed said they were confident they would succeed (which leads you to wonder about the other 48 percent who apparently didn’t hold out any hope even at the beginning!). By the end of the year, however, only 12 percent had achieved their goal.

But there is good news. Men were 22 percent more likely to succeed when they set specific goals for themselves, such as losing a pound a week, rather than vague ones such as just losing weight. Another tip; men were more likely to stick with their goals if they added an incentive, such as losing weight to make them more attractive to women, or other men.

Women can increase their odds of succeeding by simply telling others what they are trying to achieve.  Women who told family and friends their plans were 10 percent more likely to stick with the plan. They also responded better than men to encouragement not to treat slip-ups, such as not exercising for a week, as a setback and not a complete failure.

The bottom line, according to the psychologists is to let others know what you are doing, turn to them as a source of support and encouragement, and don’t get caught up in ego and unrealistic expectations. Use the failures of previous years to guide you this year. You never know. This could be the year you finally do it.

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