NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS are lodged in our collective psyche as a step toward a better year. Annually, our tired habits and routines come into focus, and so do our annual vows. Meditate every morning. Hit the gym. Quit smoking. Stop bickering with your partner.
According to the largest study on New Year’s resolutions to date, people who create resolutions that add behaviors rather than erase them are more likely to maintain them for a year. It’s a slight shift that tweaks how you phrase the resolution in the first place — changing “I will quit or avoid” to “I will start to”.
The seemingly simple twist can lead to meaningful outcomes, help people achieve their goals, and make behavior changes that last.
It may not be possible to transform your life overnight, but the study suggests habitual, additive commitments to your goals can result in big outcomes.
New Year’s resolutions are wildly popular. Forty-four percent of Americans report being likely or very likely to make a New Year’s resolution for the coming year. But despite their prevalence, scientists don’t know much about how well they work, or how to make the process better.
To answer these questions, researchers recruited 1,066 people across Sweden who made resolutions in 2017. Each participant came up with their own resolution. The most popular resolutions were related to physical health, weight loss, and changing eating habits.
The participants were divided into three different groups, which received different levels of support throughout the year: no support at all, some support, and extended support.
In the “no support” group, participants received brief, general information on New Year’s resolutions before reporting their own resolutions and belief in their chances of achieving success.
In the second group, with some support, they did the same but also received information about the positive effects of receiving social support when striving toward a personal goal. They then were asked to name a person responsible for supporting them throughout the year. The participants were also sent exercises and information on how to cope with possible hurdles when striving toward personal goals.
The last, most supported group, received the same information as group two but also received extra information about the value of setting a specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-framed goal — as well as four follow up emails. They were also asked to formulate goals in terms of approaching rather than avoiding something and to set interim goals throughout the year.
Researchers followed up with the participants every month throughout the year-long experiment. Fifty-nine percent of participants who set “approach-oriented” New Year’s resolution— those that were additive, not eliminating — considered themselves successful in keeping up their goals. These are goals that aim to add a new habit or introduce a new behavior into your life.
Read more at: https://www.inverse.com