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The psychology behind why we're so bad at keeping New Y…

new year crown
Jerry Kiesewetter /

  • About 80% of people fail to stick to their New Year’s
    resolutions for longer than six weeks.
  • Most resolutions involve trying to be healthier in some
  • Psychological reasons we don’t succeed include
    overthinking how arduous our resolutions will be, and leaving
    ourselves mental get-out clauses.

It’s a new year, and many people will be wanted to turn over a
new leaf. That’s what New Year’s resolutions are for — to make
improvements to our lives in some way.

But they are really hard to stick to. In fact, according to one statistic, 80% of
us will fail
by the second week of February. A valiant

A study from 2016 published in Personality and Social Psychology
, a scientific journal, investigated New Year’s
resolutions, and found that 55% of resolutions were health
related, such as exercising more, or eating healthier. About 20%
were to do with getting out of debt.

These are tricky things to do at any time of the year, let alone
in the month after the holidays.

The study, led by Kaitlin Woolley from Cornell University and
Ayelet Fishbach from the University of Chicago, found that
participants believe that both enjoyment and importance are
significant factors in whether they stick to their resolutions.

In fact, the researchers found that it was just the enjoyment
factor was the only thing that mattered.

In other words, if the participants were getting immediate
rewards from their new habits, they would be more likely to stick
to them.

run running runner jogging jog race marathon
Sticking to new exercise
regimes can be hard.


Another study, published in the Journal of Nature and Science,
looked into why we are so bad at sticking to health-related

It points out that only a fifth of us get the recommended amount
of exercise, despite the fact we are always being told how a
healthier lifestyle can lengthen our lives.

According to the author Seppo Iso-Ahola a professor in the
department of kinesiology at the University of Maryland, the
problem lies with the internal battle between doing what you want
to do, and what you should do.

If you can stop yourself overthinking how awful it will be to
have a salad for dinner, or to go on a run after work, you might
just have a better chance of going through with it.

Last week, the Metro reported that one
little word is what’s holding many of us back from actually
achieving our new year goals.

In her book “How to Get Sh*t Done,” lifestyle coach Erin Falconer
says using the word “should” is a bad idea, because it is often
associated with guilt, shame and an “absence of decision.”

But it also implies that whatever you are planning is a
possibility, not a reality. In other words, you’re giving
yourself an excuse simply by saying you “should” do something,
rather than you “will” do something.

So to keep yourself focused, stay away from non-committal words,
try not getting yourself worried about your healthy decisions,
and try and frame them in a way that you think you’ll enjoy.

If it doesn’t work, don’t worry. There’s always next year.

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