Already have new year’s resolutions for the coming 2019? Eating healthier, exercising more, and saving up more were last year’s top new year’s resolutions.
What do experts say are the most effective strategies to make a change at any time of the year?
Top New Year’s Resolutions
Many people have new year’s resolutions to better their lives at the beginning of a new year. Last year, eating healthier, exercising more, and saving up more were the top new year’s resolutions among adults in the United States, followed by focusing on self-care, reading more, and making new friends. Learning a new skill, getting a new job, and taking up a hobby were also some of the top new year’s resolutions.
But do these resolutions really work in effecting positive changes in people? Sixty percent of new year’s resolutions are actually dropped by the six-month mark, but those who make them are still 10 times more likely to effect change that those who do not.
In a previous study, researchers followed 200 resolution-making adults for two years and found that neither the type of resolution, age, nor gender predicted success. In fact, dieters and those who wanted to fix relationships both had a 19 percent success rate at the two-year mark.
Successful Life Resolutions
So what does work, when it comes to truly effecting positive change?
Researchers found that those who used strategies such as stimulus control and reinforcement were more successful than those who adopted consciousness raising strategies. For instance, a person trying to quit smoking might have better chances of success if he or she actually avoids smoky bars compared to another who simply put up photos of tar-blackened lungs as a reminder of the resolution.
Furthermore, a person’s preparedness to make behavioral changes as well as the belief in one’s ability to make a change also predicted the success of the resolution. This means that the resolution does not just begin at the start of the new year, but with the months leading to the “action” stage. In fact, preparedness or readiness for change was found to be the best predictor for new year’s resolution success.
It might help to write the goals down and make them manageable, so that they would not feel like deprivation, but rather positive change. It may also be helpful to remind oneself of the reasons why one chose to begin the resolution once in a while, and to focus and appreciate the positive changes that are already happening, whether big or small.
Simply put, while the new year may signal the beginning of taking action, it takes more than the turn of the year to make a lasting change, but it requires preparation, self-belief, and day to day efforts.