January 19, 2016

Do New Year’s Resolutions Work?

By Bo

If you’re like most people, you probably stayed up on New Year’s Eve and watched the ball drop. I used to love to watch Dick Clark entertain us with some of my favorite rock bands as anticipation grew approaching the 60-second countdown of the Waterford Crystal Ball dropping in Times Square. This year I watched Ryan Seacrest and listened to music from artists I’d never heard of (am I really that old?). The anticipation was still the same—new beginnings, new dreams and hope for a better year. After the ball dropped, Ryan began to interview the other folks on stage with him about their New Year’s resolutions. Some of them had definite resolutions for the New Year, while others had vague wishes of what they hoped might happen in 2016.

New Years CalendarI think everyone knows what the most popular New Year’s resolutions are. Here’s a short list—lose weight, exercise more, eat better, drink less, quit smoking and get out of debt. About 62% of Americans make resolutions each year to change something. According to statisticbrain.com, only 8% of the people who make resolutions are successful at keeping them. A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol, involving 3,000 people, showed that 88% of those who set New Year’s resolutions failed, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning.

Those statistics can be discouraging to the person who is wanting to make a change in the New Year. However, some other statistics from the study by Wiseman can shed some light on how to successfully make changes to our lives.

  • The most common reason for participants failing their New Year’s resolution was setting unrealistic goals (35%).
  • The second most common reason was not keeping track of their progress (33%).
  • Men achieved their goals 22% more often when they engaged in a goal-setting system where measurable goals were being set, such as a pound a week, instead of just saying they wanted to “lose weight”.
  • Women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.

If you’re reading this, you’re probably interested in making some changes or achieving some goals in 2016. So here are some tips to help you achieve some of the things you really want to accomplish this year.

1. Put Your Goals In Writing

Goals ListAs good as this sounds, almost no one does it. Writing your goals on paper makes them real. Once you have your goals written down, don’t just put them in your desk drawer—put them in a place where they can be seen daily. Read them daily and commit to them daily. With very few exceptions, winners have written goals. If you want to win at changing your life, losing weight or just having more energy, write your goals on paper and read them every day.

2. Make Your Goals Specific

Saying you want to be healthier is not a specific goal. Saying you want to get your blood pressure below 120/80 is a specific goal that will make you healthier. The more specific the goal is, the easier it will be to reach.

3. Make Your Goals Realistic

Trying to lose 30 pounds before your daughter’s wedding in 8 weeks is unrealistic (I don’t care what you’ve seen on reality TV). Losing 15 pounds in 8 weeks is realistic (1 to 2 pounds a week is a healthy rate of weight loss).

4. Make Your Goals Measurable

Saying you want to eat better is not a measurable goal. Saying you want to eat 4 servings of vegetables everyday is measurable—you can count it and record it.

5. Share Your Goals With Others

Tell your friends and family about your goals. Post your goals on Facebook. Put them on your fridge for everyone to see. Doing so will recruit a support group of friends and family who will want to see you succeed. Want an anonymous support group? There’s an app for that. Check out stickk.com, which is an online goal tracker designed to help you create a commitment and track your goals. You can even set yourself up to pay a fine to a charity if you don’t reach your goal.

Twenty Sixteen is just getting started. You still have plenty of time to set goals for this year, or even this quarter. There’s no better time than right now to set goals to have the life you want. If you’ve already broken your New Year’s resolution, don’t worry, so has everyone else.

Now let’s set some goals and make things happen!