We just started 2011, and you may have made some new year’s resolutions and be good at maintaining them so far. Congratulations if you are! You belong to the 71% people that maintained their new year resolutions after 2 weeks.

According to a study published in 2002, in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, new year’s resolutions are maintained as time goes on as follows:

  • past the first week: 75%
  • past 2 weeks: 71%
  • after one month: 64%
  • after 6 months: 46%

Apparently, 40% of adults at least make one or more resolutions each year, and at least two-thirds of these pledges concern life-threatening health behaviours—tobacco smoking, obesity and inactivity, for example -.  The good news being that the success rate of resolutions is approximately ten times higher than the success rate of adults desiring to change their behaviour but not making a resolution. Moreover, the success rates of multiple attempts at self-change are presumably higher than single attempts (Norcross et al., 1989).

So to ensure success with regards to your new year’s resolutions, I thought I would highlight 5 points you may want to ensure they share:

  1. Ensure they are truly important and meaningful to you first and not to someone else 😉
  2. Ensure that your resolutions are realistic, i.e. that they are achievable
  3. Describe them in specific terms, i.e. instead of saying I will exercise more, go for I will go to the gym at least twice (or any other frequency you fancy:-) ) a week.
  4. Break down large goals into smaller ones. For instance, commit to losing weight by resolving to join a gym, and go twice a week and improve your eating habits.
  5. Find alternatives to a behavior that you want to change, and make this part of your resolution plan. For instance, you want to reduce the time you spend in front of TV watching anything and everything, but TV helps to relax you, look at other relaxation techniques such as going for a walk or catching up on reading books you are so keen on reading but never seem to have time for.

And finally, from my point of view what makes a real difference is to limit oneself to a few resolutions at a time and to ensure that the resolutions covered the whole spectrum of things one wants to do, to get(have) and to be.

Enjoy living and realising your new year resolutions!!

And if like me, your resolutions are just one way to get closer to realising your dreams, read on the next post.

Auld Lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers, by John C. Norcross, Marci S. Mrykalo, Matthew D. Blagys , University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Volume 58, Issue 4 (2002).