Don't Give Up on Your New Year's Resolutions

An estimated one out of two people makes New Year's resolutions. What's the difference between those who give up and those who succeed? A study actually explored this issue and came up with some interesting findings. Focusing on the problem doesn't actually help a person's chance of success, nor does the specific resolution. The keys appear to be avoidance strategies and positive thinking.

 

Ready to Throw in the Towel?

Are you the type of person who uses each new year as an opportunity to resolve to make positive changes? If so, you're not alone. Research shows that about half of us make New Year's Resolutions.

But making resolutions and keeping them are two different things. What is it, exactly, that makes the difference between those who fall flat on their faces with their resolutions and those who make the positive changes for the long run? Taking a look at who fails, and why, might help us boost our chances for success.
 
In this article, we'll focus on one interesting study that followed a group of people as they attempted to keep up with their New Year's resolutions. This study compared the people who succeeded with those who failed, noting differences between the groups.

Positive Factors

This study showed that people who tried to avoid tempting situations were more likely to succeed (this is known as "avoidance strategies"). As an example, people trying to lose weight might use this strategy by removing the tempting foods from their homes. Or, a person trying to quit smoking would attempt to avoid spending time around people who are smoking.
 
People who rewarded themselves for "good behavior" also had a better chance of keeping their resolutions (this is known as positive reinforcement). For example, if your resolution is to organize your house, you could motivate yourself by allowing yourself a small treat or reward of some sort each time you get a room organized.
 
In the study, positive thinking improved the chances for success, too. This makes sense intuitively. If you believe that you will fail, it makes sense that you will, in fact, fail. Along very similar lines, people with "self-efficacy of change" and "self-efficacy of maintenance" also did better. What do these terms mean? Self-efficacy of change means that you believe you are capable of changing. Self-efficacy of maintenance is the belief that you can keep up the change.
 
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