Have You Broken Your New Year’s Resolution Already?

January 7, 2016

According to a University of Scranton study, the number of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions tends to be about 45%. The number of people who are successful in achieving their resolutions by year end is said to be a mere 8%. Indeed, by the end of the first week approximately 25% have already fallen off the wagon! If you find you’re among this 25%, don’t be too hard on yourself. Not only do you have lots of company, but the recent boom in brain research has served to enlighten us as to why we humans do what we do, which includes ways to help us get back on track and be most motivated with our personal goals.

For example, research conducted by Wharton professor Katherine Milkman and her colleagues demonstrates that people are most likely to set goals at not only the start of a new year, but around a number of other kinds of “temporal landmarks:” a new season, the first day back from vacation, a new month, a birthday, or even just the start of a new week. Basically, if a person regards a particular day as the beginning of a new cycle, he or she can start anew and claim a new start with an increased level of motivation simply because it’s a perceived new cycle. You’ve probably done this instinctually in the past, but the research delves into why this strategy is so appealing. These renewals tend to be effective in changing our behavior because they can continually motivate us, keep our sights set on making positive lifestyle changes, help pick us up after we inevitably stumble and disappoint ourselves, and create a new duration of mental accountability.

But, really, how effective is it to set goals in the first place? Well, experts say people who explicitly make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly set such goals.

So what might be the next start of your new cycle?