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By Gina Clarke
It might be Ditch New Years Resolutions day but with these tips you can carry them on for a bit longer.
Tomorrow, Wednesday 17th January, is the day most common New Years resolutions are broken. Whether it’s Dry January, losing weight or even trendy Veganuary, unless you have super strong willpower it’s likely you will have kicked these promises to the curb by the end of the day.
If this is you, abandoning the promise you made just over two-weeks ago, then luckily you’re not alone. According to some studies, almost 80% of people who make New Years resolutions will abandon them at some point and just 3% see it through the entire year, but according to Days of the Year January 17th is ‘Ditch New Years Resolutions day’ the most common for our good intentions to lapse.
It’s a whole one week earlier than just 4-years ago when a survey by FreeDeliveryLand.co.uk, revealed that the 24th January was the most difficult to keep up the resolutions and was then dubbed ‘Fail Friday’. But science shows that forming new resolutions can be tricky.
The brain is key when it comes to embracing change
According to brain scientists, changing our habits actually, require the formation of new neural pathways in our brain. In order to enable this change, we have to focus on new behaviours and thought patterns rather than sticking to our old ways.
The easiest way to do this is to have a specific resolution, so instead of just wanting to lose weight, think about how you want to make that happen. Get your gym kit ready the night before or measure out your breakfast on an evening to get your body used to a lower calorie intake or a more varied exercise routine.
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, the most common resolutions we make are to lose weight, exercise, stop smoking, manage our money better, and reduce our debt. They are things we all have in common, so that makes them easy to share and seek support.
Get specific with your resolutions
Specificity is the key here. Rather than a broad goal like “lose weight,” identify a small but tangible behaviour that will enable you to form a new habit like “go to bed wearing my workout gear.”
Tech moguls see the New Year as a time to focus, and with the likes of Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg ensuring their resolutions come complete with a competitive angle, it makes it easier to gain a momentum.
For instance, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is a longtime advocate of New Years resolutions and he
publicly pledges a new personal challenge every year. His past challenges have included everything from the wacky, ‘wear a tie every day’ (2009) to ‘become a vegetarian’ (2011), and even make sure that he ‘kills everything I eat’ (2012).
Zuckerberg succeeds because his resolutions are focussed and by sharing with the world, he has help and support to fulfil them.
But with most people focussing on diet and weight, it’s easy to see how it’s not only our time that we waste with resolutions. Money can get eaten up too, on the food we won’t eat and also classes or gym memberships that we never use.
Resolutions can be costly if you are not committed
According to the International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association, 12% of new gym memberships start in January and a high proportion of gym income is from members who sign up to lengthy contracts and then attend irregularly, although the exact amount is unclear. The rise of budget, no contract gyms is making things a little less expensive for people whose commitment to fitness quickly waivers. Regular gym goers are in the minority with only one in 10 people in England going at least once a month, according to Sport England.
Meanwhile, as FiveThirtyEight pointed out last year in a post on a huge analysis of different diet regimes, certain diets showed impressive weight loss after six months but followers seemed to have regained some of those pounds by the end of the year. The difficulty of sticking to the strict regimes of some diets can be partially to blame.
So, if you find yourself wavering on your New Year’s resolution, make sure you’ve chosen something attainable and have the right support to see it through. And if the resolutions focus on stopping instead of starting, that can be just as hard. According to research from University College London, it takes about 66 days to completely break an old habit, and it can take much longer to master something new. To that end, making steps towards achieving a goal even if you don’t get there as quickly as you like should definitely be celebrated.
Dr. Paul Marciano is a behavioural psychologist, he believes our “all or nothing” mindset keeps us from being able to achieve our goals. A year is a long time so the trick is to do something to work towards your goal every day.
You might not walk to work, but get off the bus or park further away. Didn’t get time to clear your inbox? No problem, just make sure you tackle a few at the top.
To keep your resolutions in shape, here are our 5 top tips for keeping them:
- Make sure your resolution is specific so to ‘lose x in weight’ or ‘make my spin class each week’ and you’ll have more chance of hitting it.
- If it’s unattainable, drop it. Focus on one resolution you can do well instead of half a dozen.
- Make your friends and family aware of what you’re doing, the more people know the more support you can count on to knock that biscuit out of your hand.
- Make sure you’re mentally equipped for this challenge, if your heads not involved then it’s just not happening.
- Finally, ensure whatever you decide doesn’t make you out of pocket. If you’re not using the gym cancel the subscription or don’t buy that expensive pair of running shoes before you’ve even been for a walk.