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| January 16, 2019

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New Year’s Resolutions: how easy are they to stick to?

New Year’s Resolutions: how easy are they to stick to?
Louisa Streeting

As we say goodbye to 2018 and welcome in the New Year, traditionally a large proportion of us will create resolutions to set goals and change behaviours. Whether it is to do more charitable acts or to be healthier, January is considered the month to begin trying new and exciting things in our lives.

The predominantly Western tradition dates back to Babylonian times and Middle Ages. Individuals made promises to their Gods at the beginning of the year they would return borrowed objects and pay debts.

What are the most common New Year’s resolutions?

Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions are those focused on our physicality and wellbeing. The top reoccurring goals include losing weight (by eating healthily and more exercise), quitting smoking, and cutting down on drinking.

Exercising © Max Pixel

Many people sign up to Dry January, the UK’s alcohol-free month as part of the charity, Alcohol Change UK. Although the organisation promotes the health benefits of Dry January before anything else, you can also donate the money you save to charity or receive sponsorship from family and friends.

There are also several mental challenges people set themselves, including learning a new skill or a hobby, read more books, or perhaps find a new job. In a heavily digitalised environment, it is becoming harder to stay away from our screens and engage in other activities.

Others also want to spend less time spent with technology, including reducing time spend on social media. This also might link to preventing procrastination, which is often heightened through aimless scrolling when putting off a task.

Smartphones now have apps to tell you exactly how much time you are spending on your screens. They can even identify the specific games or social media sites you spend the most time on over the course of the week.

Cutting down on screen time and social media is a popular New Year’s resolution.

How can we ensure we achieve these goals?

It can be tricky to follow through on our resolutions for the New Year. According to a study conducted by the University of Bristol, 88% of their participants failed their resolutions.

The study also highlighted there was an increased success rate when participants employed goal setting methods. For example, if your resolution involved losing weight, some people suggest setting small and realistic goals, such as one pound a week, which is healthy and sustainable.

Other researchers suggest identifying the reasons behind the goal, whether its to improve fitness or prevent future health risks. Also, trying to enjoy the new activity or lifestyle choice and not make it seem like a chore is sure to improve results.

Whether you have a goal for the New Year or not, the most important thing is to do what makes you happy and try your best. You may not reap the benefits straight away, and patience is key to results.

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