While conducting some searches earlier today, I came across an article by Richard Koestner that provides some interesting factoids about New Year's resolutions. I thought that I would share these with the Psychology Today readership, as I am sure that many individuals will be setting new personal goals to achieve in 2010.
➢ 50% of adults in North America will make a New Year's resolution (Norcross & Vangarelli, 1988, as cited by Koestner 2008, p. 60).
➢ The top two resolutions are behavioral commitments related to improving one's health namely to cease smoking and decrease one's consumption of alcohol (Norcross & Vangarelli, 1988, as cited by Koestner 2008, p. 60).
➢ Some discouraging information: Most people fail in adhering to their stated New Year's resolutions. Specifically, 22% fail after one week, 40% after one month, 50% after three months, 60% after six months, and 81% after twenty-four months (Norcross & Vangarelli, 1988, as cited by Koestner 2008, p. 60).
➢ Three reasons for failing to achieve one's stated goals (Baumeister and Heatherton 1996, as cited by Koestner, 2008, p. 61):
(1) Unclear and vague goals. It is better to state "I plan on losing 20 lbs by June 1st" rather than "I plan on being more healthy."
(2) Failure to gauge one's progress toward the stated goals. It is better to weigh yourself every Friday morning as a means of gauging your weight loss rather than leaving it to how "well you feel in your pants."
(3) Weak self-control and self-regulation when facing challenges that impede one's ability to achieve the stated goals. It is better to state that once you go on vacation, you will only have a single plate at any meal at the all-you can eat buffet (irrespective of the offerings) rather than having to respond to the temptations at each meal void of a self-regulatory action plan.
Having just lost quite a bit a weight over the past four months, I can attest that the latter three suggestions (whilst intuitively obvious) are quite powerful in helping us achieve our goals.
I wish you and your loved ones a healthy and happy new year.
Ciao for now.
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