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Do You Have a Summer Resolution?

We’ve all had New Year’s resolutions, but maybe summer resolutions are better.

At every New Year’s party, at least one person asks what everyone’s resolutions are. Even those who hadn’t set any resolutions until then probably feel like they at least should attempt to eat healthier or to save more, and the new year seems like a good opportunity to start a new habit. However, we know from research that most New Year’s resolutions fail, and many get abandoned even before January ends.

Does that mean that resolutions in general are doomed, or is New Year’s not the best time to set them? I think this year is a good opportunity to try something a bit different, the summer resolution. The principle is the same, after all, it’s a resolution. But the start and end dates are more flexible. Summer could refer to the season, the summer school holidays, or your definition of summer.

Importantly, I think a summer resolution gives you a better chance to follow through, for several reasons. First, New Year’s comes directly after the winter holiday season, which is often a time where people travel, overeat, overspend, and in general indulge. With this backdrop it’s easy to tell yourself you will never want cake, booze, or online shopping again, so it’s easy to overestimate your capability to still to your healthier or more frugal resolution. But summer doesn’t suddenly start after a period of overindulgence, so it’s easier to set more realistic resolutions that aren’t so ambitious that they are set up for failure.

Second, summer offers lots of pleasure in and of itself. People enjoy the sun, go to the beach, or just take more time to read and to go on bike rides for fun. If you set the goal to give up on candy or to work out more, it’s easier to implement because life seems more pleasurable than it is in the depth of winter. Giving up on some temptations is then less painful because many other small pleasures exist already.

Still, some rules apply to make a summer resolution successful. People often fail if they lack the resources to pursue a resolution. For example, going to the gym three times a week is difficult if you first need to buy a membership and exercise clothes. In this case, a resolution to go for a daily walk is much more likely to succeed. And people often imagine their future selves to be tougher versions of their current selves.

If you can’t stand a daily cold shower now, you won’t suddenly be able to after you’ve made a resolution. Try to imagine as concretely as possible what behavior you want to change and what you’ll feel in that moment, because that will allow you to predict your future pleasure and pain. Finally, if you want to make changes in your life, you don’t have to wait for a new season or holiday to arrive. Start small and see what works for you to create habits that stick.


Liu, P. J. (2022). Frequency versus intensity: How thinking of a frequent con-sumption indulgence as social versus solitary affects preferences for howto cut back.Journal of Marketing Research,59, 497–516.

Steinmetz, J. (2024). Too Little Money or Time? Using Justifications to Maintain a Positive Image After Self-Control Failure. European Journal of Social Psychology, 54, 332-340.

Steinmetz, J., Tausen, B. M., & Risen, J. L. (2018). Mental simulation of visceral states affects preferences and behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44, 406-417.

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