New Year’s Resolutions

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– by Matt Leedham

It’s that time of year again. As New Year’s Day approaches, many of us are faced with the challenge of choosing (and hopefully sticking to) a New Year’s resolution.

But why do we do this? Why engage in this annual ritual?

The reason for setting resolutions on the first of the year has certainly evolved over the centuries, but a couple of things seem to be clear. The obvious is that the New Year represents a new start, a clean slate, and a chance to press the reset button. Our current interpretation of resolutions likely got its legs from religious traditions. Christians prefer to sacrifice a vice during Lent (e.g. chocolate, alcohol, TV, etc.) and from Rosh Hashanah through Yom Kippur Jews reflect on wrongdoings and seek to improve themselves. Many other religions and cultures share similar traditions during their New Year and high holidays.

This is all very interesting, but how effective are New Year’s resolutions? I’m fascinated by this topic every year when the gym seems to be packed in early January, but empty again in late February.

Professor Richard Wiseman is behind Quirkology, a collection of many interesting studies into daily living. Three years ago, his team tracked over 3,000 people that set New Year’s resolutions, including the most common ones of losing weight, working out, drinking less, volunteering more, etc.

Alarmingly, while 52% of respondents were confident of success, one year later only 12% actually achieved their goal. Yikes!

What he found in his study (and what we have found coaching people on goal achievement) is that you are much more likely to be successful if you set specific, measurable goals that have a deadline. In fact, Professor Wiseman found that 22% of men were more likely to achieve their resolution if they engage in proper goal setting techniques. He also found that telling others about your resolution and seeking support from friends and family was another important factor toward achievement. Specifically, women were 10% more likely to be successful when reaching out to others.

We want you to succeed this year! Here are three things you can do to dramatically improve your ability to succeed this January and beyond:

  1. Set specific, measurable goals, with deadlines and checkpoints.
  2. Use your network and resources to achieve your goal.
  3. Sign up for our Goal Setting Workshop this Saturday (December 11th) where we’ll teach you all of this in greater detail!

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