Sparrho New Year’s Blog: Part 2 — The science of how to achieve our New Year’s resolutions

Jim Broomhead climbing the Moonflower Buttress of Mt. Hunter in Alaska with the photograph taken by Kristoffer Szilas (Wiki Commons)

Happy New Year’s! By now, most of you will probably have made a New Year’s resolution. However, achieving it is a difficult task as 78% of people fail [1]. But! We are here to help using scientific tips to increase the likelihood of you achieving your goal!

One of the biggest suggestions is to break down your resolution into smaller and well defined goals. Professor Richard Wiseman at Hertfordshire University ‘s Department of Psychology suggests to break down your New Year’s resolution into well defined and achievable goals. For example, if you want to lose weight — choose to say “eat dessert only twice a week” or “have salad twice this week” instead of stating a vague “eat healthier” resolution. This will give you a well defined goal that you can quantitatively achieve [2, 3].

The next tip is to set realistic goals,and ideally only one so that you can focus on it [4]. As will power is actually finite source [5], a common fault is that we often try to do too many things or set impossible goals. It is difficult to break habits, so saying you’ll go from couch potato to olympic athlete in a 6 month is unrealistic. So it is recommended to set small but achievable goals such as “go jogging twice a week” instead of “get into shape and a six-pack.”

Another key tip is to not get upset by small failures [6, 7]. A very common reason that people give up is that we often assume an “all or nothing” attitude for their resolution. So whenever we have that extra biscuit, go traveling for work, or get ill — we completely give up on our resolutions. At the end of the day, we’re all human and mistakes or drops in willpower happen — the trick is to remember this and afterwards get back on track.

A final trick suggested by Professor Wiseman is to write a journal to track progress [8]. This helps us look back at our progress when we look at Day 1 but also to keep yourself disciplined.

So this concludes our special Sparrho New Year’s Blogs! Our previous blog about why we fail our resolution can be read here! Good luck with your resolutions whether it be getting into shape or meeting old friends!

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