Only 8 Percent of People Keep Their New Year’s Resolutions; Will You?

People have made their New Year’s resolutions for 2017. However, only a very, very small percentage of goal makers will see their goals through to success, according to research.

In fact, only 8 percent of people on average manage to keep their resolution each year. Will you find yourself among that select few?

Why Keeping Your Resolution is so Hard

To understand the reasons that keeping one’s resolutions is such a perennially difficult task, it’s first useful to look at the top resolutions that tend to get chosen year after year. In 2015, the top 10 resolutions were the following:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Get organized
  3. Spend less, save more
  4. Enjoy life to the fullest
  5. Stay fit and healthy
  6. Learn something exciting
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others in their dreams
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with family

These goals don’t differ much from one year to the next. They’re all made with the best intentions. However, there are a few things wrong with the way these goals are set.

First of all, they’re mostly pretty non-specific. People make resolutions with vague terms such as “lose weight” or “spend less.”

The crucial point is that these goals contain nothing to measure success. They’re open-ended; they contain no restrictions. It’s hard to keep goals if you don’t have some way to measure them along the way.

In addition, many of these goals were unrealistically designed. Falling in love isn’t something that most of us can plan to do, and enjoying life to the fullest is a bit of a stretch because it points towards the unknown. There’s no specific destination.

According to research from Psychology Today, the inability to keep New Year’s resolutions is also related to what Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Canada, calls “cultural procrastination.”

According to Pychyl, people tend to make resolutions in an effort to change their bad habits, but most of them aren’t honestly ready to commit to change. So they set unrealistic goals and harbor expectations they can’t readily meet.

How to Keep Your Resolutions

The eight percent of the population who keep their resolutions show that it can be done, however. But how do they do it successfully?

Aside from being truly ready to commit to transformation of their lives, people who manage to keep their resolutions usually adopt some of the following goal-setting tips.

Make S.M.A.R.T Goals: S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Timely. When you make goals, fill out each category in depth so your destination is well thought out and applicable. This method of goal forming avoids most of the problems associated with typical resolutions. You’ll feel more motivated and invested in your goal, and you’ll be properly ready to make the changes necessary to stick to it.

Use Your Resources: Many tools are available to help you achieve your goals. If you’re looking to lose weight, you can find apps and support groups. If you’re hoping to quit smoking, you can attend information sessions and learn tried-and-true tactics from those who have done it before. The tools are there, so you might as well make use of them.

Choose One Goal and Stick with It: A common error committed by resolution makers is to try to do too much at once. They get overwhelmed because they select several goals in January and find themselves having to give up on all of them after a few months. Instead of swamping yourself with too many resolutions, choose just one and make that the focus of the year. If you manage to achieve your goal by June, feel free to pick another.

Keeping your New Year’s resolutions is possible, but it takes hard work and the right tools. Don’t ignore the resources available to you and use the tips above to make yourself one of the few who keep their resolutions in 2017.

Melissa Thompson
Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.