New Year, New You?
It’s January, again, that time when we all determine that we will do better, exercise more, eat healthier, learn a new skill, and grow as people. I’ve already spent time making my goals for 2022, goals about reading, language learning, and…well, perhaps I’ve already forgotten the others. Good thing I wrote them down. I know I may not achieve them all, but just trying means I’m going to do things and learn things I wouldn’t otherwise have done and learned without having a goal. Right?
However, it seems that many times, we make goals or resolutions, but aren’t very successful in keeping them. After a week, most people are still doing well, with 75% of people sticking to their resolutions, but after a month, the group of successful folks drops closer to 64%.1 But at least we can see that those who made resolutions are a little more successful in making change than those who don’t. In a 2002 study of those who made new year’s resolutions vs. those who didn’t, authors Norcross, Mrykalo, and Blagys found that at 6 months, 46% of those who made resolutions were continuously successful, compared to 4% of those who wanted to change but did not make any resolutions.2 But still…46%? That’s less than half.
Many new year’s goals are related to health – dieting, eating healthier, losing weight, exercising more, getting stronger. In a 2020 study on new year’s resolutions, authors Oscarsson, Carlbring, Andersson, and Rozental found that the most popular goal category among their participants was that of goals related to physical health, with weight loss and change in eating habits being second and third, respectively.3 Think about your goals for the year. Are any of them related to health habits? Or did you decide against that kind of goal because you’re not sure you’re going to be among the 46% of successful folks come June? Well, if you’re one of the many valiantly trying to improve your health, exercise more, lose weight, or build better health habits this year, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances of success.
First, the same study referenced above (Oscarsson and colleagues) found that those who made “approach-oriented goals” were more successful than those trying to adhere to “avoidance-oriented goals.”3 Basically, those who set goals to do something were more successful than those who set goals to not do something or stop doing something. Other factors considered in the study included setting specific goals (as opposed to general) and the amount of support provided for the goal-setters. Those with support were vastly more successful than those without.3 So, practically, how does this help us? How can we make use of this information?
So, as you enter this year motivated and excited to do better, don’t get discouraged! You’ve got this—go forth and conquer!