Show of hands who made New Year’s resolutions going into 2022? Now keep those hands raised if you didn’t manage to complete them, and then those remaining keep your hands up if you stopped by February? Don’t be too alarmed, the most popular resolutions happen to also be the most common resolutions broken sooner rather than later for many.
A study by UC San Diego Health conducted in 2016 contains all the popular hits when it comes to New Year’s resolutions, from losing weight and a dry January to quitting smoking and getting out of debt, or saving money. Then there are the aspirational resolutions - go travelling, watch less Netflix or learn something new, ideas that seem easily obtainable heading into 2023, but a little harder to continue come February.
Those ten most common resolutions, in no particular order, include:
- Lose weight/exercise.
- Quit smoking.
- Learn something new.
- Eat healthier.
- Get out of debt/save money.
- Spend more time with family and friends.
- Watch less TV/become less glued to computer and mobile screens.
- Travel more
- Be less stressed
- Get more sleep
But why do people make resolutions only to stop committing to them during a new year? A study into the phenomenon, conducted by Hengchen Dai, Katherine L. Milkman and Jason Riis for the 23 Jun 2014 periodical Management Science, concluded that January 1 each year acts as a temporal landmark for many people.
This landmark is used to self-promote a moment of change in life and an ideal starting point to make changes. This can be applied to a number of life events, including setting the alarm a certain time to wake up and, on this occasion, making big life choices - setting a date for when the changes will commence.
So how can one stick to a resolution? Kendra Cherry at VeryWellMind offered up several tips including creating a detailed plan on how you’re looking to achieve your resolution, picking one goal rather than a number and starting with small steps. The biggest advice though for those wishing to fulfil their New Year’s resolution is to remember that “change is a process.”
“It may take longer than you would like to achieve your goals, but remember that this is not a race to the finish. Once you have made the commitment to changing a behaviour, it may be something that you continue to work on for the rest of your life” she wrote.