Imagine Health

Give Up The Resolutions

The end of December and the beginning of January is a time when we reflect on the previous year and look to the future for the New Year.

We try to balance what we have accomplished with what we haven’t achieved and make plans accordingly.

This can be about dreaming, making plans and set goals for yourself. By doing so we have a sense of controlling our own fate, a feeling that we strive to develop ourselves, try to predict our future and change it for the better. This is associated with making New Year’s resolutions.

According to the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology (January 2014) 45 % of American adults usually make New Year’s resolutions, 47% of them are related to self-improvement or education, 38% are weight related, 34% money and 31% relationship related.

The top 10 resolutions that people make are:

  1. Lose Weight
  2. Getting Organised
  3. Spend less, save more
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Staying fit and healthy
  6. Learn something new
  7. Quit smoking and / or drinking
  8. Help others
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with family and friends

Most resolution-makers become resolution-breakers. Researchers from the University of Scranton reported that 54% people will give up on their resolutions within six months, and only 8% eventually succeed by the end of the year.


  • Set SMART Goals
    Firstly, it is really important how you formulate your new resolution. Forget about what you don’t want or what you want to avoid. Think about what you really want to change. What do you want to achieve this year? Then make your goals specific, measurable (quantifiable), achievable, realistic and time limited (Locke, 1968).
  • Work on one thing at a time
    Even if you made a long list of things you would like to change in 2015 put first things first. Prioritise your resolutions, pick one that will give you the biggest payoff and work on it. As Roy Baumeister has proven in his studies- self-control is an exhaustible resource, therefore having too many New Year’s resolutions is a prescription for not keeping any of them. It doesn’t mean that you can’t work on another one later on, it only means that you should focus your attention and resources on not more than one at any given time.
  • Practice every day
    According to Baumeister, a psychologist from the Florida State University, self-control is a muscle. It can lie prostrate, needs time to regenerate, but also it can be trained. People with average talent can have extraordinary achievements if they make an effort. The amount and quality of daily practice that you will put in to meeting our goals will be proportionate to the level of the improvement you will achieve. Practice till you will reach a “habitual automaticity” – a stage when you will be able to perform the new habit without having to think about it.
  • Celebrate the little successes
    Maintain a record of your progress. This is a form of self- monitoring that will help you to keep track of what works and doesn’t work, enable you to make improvements, prevent setbacks and increase motivation. Reward yourself for small successes. This will reinforce positive strategies and tactics and boost your motivation.
  • Avoid all-or-nothing mentality.
    Focus on progress, not perfection, and plan for inevitable slip-up. Thinking constructively about setbacks could be key to maintaining new habits, according to G. Alan Marlatt from the University of Washington. Avoid turning moments of weakness into full-on relapses. One-time resignation from daily jogging doesn’t turn the whole effort to nothing and doesn’t mean that you should give up on further attempts to improve your physical condition.

Finally, setting goals shouldn’t depend on a day in the calendar. If you want to change something in your life, respect the limitations of self-control and spread your resolutions out over the entire year. To achieve the best results the date does not really matter.

Aleksandra Szczecinska
Assistant Psychologist