CELEBRATION: The new year is a chance to set new goals and stick to them.
CELEBRATION: The new year is a chance to set new goals and stick to them. martin-dm

How to stick to your 2019 new year's resolutions

Six weeks. That is how long it takes for 80 per cent of people's new year's resolutions to fail. If you want to be the exception rather than rule, here are five hacks to give your resolutions the best chance of success.

Change one word

Could increasing the chances of sticking to your resolutions be as simple as changing one word? According to science, it can. Marketing professor Vanessa Patrick recruited 120 university students in an experiment using unhealthy food temptations.

One group was taught to say "I can't eat X” when presented with an unhealthy snack. The other group was taught to say "I don't eat X”.

Of those who were taught to say "I can't eat X” 39 per cent chose a healthy granola bar over a chocolate bar when offered. In contrast, 64 per cent of those in the "I don't eat X” group picked the healthier bar. Changing one simple word increased the likelihood of selecting the healthy snack hugely. So if your new year's resolutions involve stopping a particular behaviour, say that you don't do this behaviour, rather than you can't.

Express gratitude

Sticking to resolutions involves self-control. To help your new year's resolutions stick, spend a few minutes every day thinking about something you are grateful for. Doing so will build up your willpower and give your resolutions the best chance of success.

Write down your resolutions

Writing down commitments more than doubles the chance of sticking to them. Taking the action of writing down a goal says much more about yourself compared to just thinking about a goal. And as such, we are more likely to follow through.

Start with one resolution

We often talk about new year's resolutions plural. It is assumed we will set more than one. However, this is where we could be going wrong. Resolutions are generally about habit change. And habits are hard to change. They take a large amount of self-control and self-discipline. Psychology professor Roy F. Baumeister recommends starting with just one resolution - the easiest first. Achieving it increases the chance of success with more challenging habits.

Set mini-goals

Many people's resolutions consist of big goals. Quit smoking. Lose 15kg. Go to the gym every day. A trick to helping you achieve your resolutions is to break your big goal into sub-goals. You will feel a bigger sense of progress through hitting your smaller goals more frequently.


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