Resolving to keep Resolutions…

A quick Did-You-Know?

The tradition of the New Year’s Resolutions goes all the way back to 153 B.C. Janus, a mythical king of early Rome was placed at the head of the calendar. With two faces, Janus could look back on past events and forward to the future. Janus became the ancient symbol for resolutions and many Romans looked for forgiveness from their enemies and also exchanged gifts before the beginning of each year.

NY Resolutions picAnyone who has ever made and broken a New Year’s Resolution can appreciate the difficulty of behavior change. Making a lasting change in behavior is rarely a simple process, and usually involves a substantial commitment of time, effort and emotion. Many people become discouraged and give up on their behavior change goals. The key to maintaining your goals is to try new techniques and find ways to stay motivated.

Psychologists have developed a number of ways to effectively help people change their behavior. Many of these techniques are used by therapists, physicians, and teachers. Researchers have also proposed theories to explain how change occurs. One of these theories, known as the ‘Stages of Change’ model, has been used to help people understand the change process. This model demonstrates that change is rarely easy and often requires a gradual progression of small steps toward a larger goal.

Understanding the elements of change, the stages of change, and ways to work through each stage can help you achieve your goals.


In March 2012, the University of Scranton published the following stats about New Year Resolutions in the Journal of Clinical Psychology:

Rank Top 10 New Years resolutions for 2012
Lose Weight
Getting Organized
Spend Less, Save More
Enjoy Life to the Fullest
Staying Fit and Healthy
Learn Something Exciting
Quit Smoking
Help Others in Their Dreams
Fall in Love
Spend More Time with Family
News Years Resolution Statistics Data
Percent of Americans who usually make New Year’s Resolutions 45%
Percent of Americans who infrequently make New Year’s Resolutions 17%
Percent of Americans who absolutlely never make New Year’s Resolutions 38%
Percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolution 8%
Percent who have infrequent success 49%
Percent who never succeed and fail on their resolution each year 24%
People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions
Type of Resolutions (Percent above 100% because of multiple resolutions) Data
Self Improvement or education related resolutions 47%
Weight related resolutions 38%
Money related resolutions 34%
Relationship related resolutions 31%
Age Success Rates Data
Percent of people in their twenties who achieve their resolution each year 39%
Percent of people over 50 who achieve their resolution each year 14%
Length of Resolutions Data
Resolution maintained through first week 75%
Past two weeks 71%
Past one month 64%
Past six months 46%

[Source: Statistic Brain]

Other popular commitments are: Get a better education, Get a better job, Reduce Reuse and Recycle.

If you have any of the following on your own lists, then you should know that they are the Top 10 most broken resolutions (according to a poll by Time magazine):

  • Lose Weight and Get Fit
  • Quit Smoking
  • Learn Something New
  • Eat Healthier and Diet
  • Get Out of Debt and Save Money
  • Spend More Time with Family
  • Travel to New Places
  • Be Less Stressed
  • Volunteer
  • Drink Less

Only two of the above don’t feature on the results from Stanton’s Top 10 New Years resolutions for 2012.

A couple of my thoughts on what I’ll do in 2013:

Spending time with family; each year following a glorious holiday break, most people vow to appreciate loved ones and spend more time with family and friends in the new year. “Work shouldn’t always come first!” seems to be the obvious mantra… Last year I made a significant life change to allow me to do just this but working for yourself and working from home doesn’t necessarily equate to spending more time with family.  I’m going to have to keep this one around for a bit longer.

Getting fit; I’m no spring chicken anymore and the health benefits far outweigh the sweat, effort and body aches associated with getting me fit. Well, that’s the theory at least.  Two years ago I joined Run/Walk For Life and enjoyed it really – then someone got sick (not terminal, just a sniffle) and it rained one morning.  My routine went downhill from there.  I still have the outfit so I should most probably put this to good use.

Enjoy life more; no grand plans just balance of body, mind and soul. I really don’t want for anything materialistic. Of course I love gadgets and stuff but I really don’t need any of it. None of it gives me any more joy than what I already have. (But don’t think about taking my iPad away from me!)

Help others; volunteerism can take many forms. Whether you choose to spend time helping out at your local library, mentoring a child, or building a house, there are many nonprofit volunteer organizations that could really use your help. If your time is really in short supply, maybe you can at least find it in you to donate the furniture, clothing and other household items that you no longer need, rather than leaving them out by the curb to fill up our landfills.

One of my projects through multiplicity will be to connect Corporates with NGO’s as part of their Executive Learning Programmes. This will create a meaningful and practical experience for Corporates, and a sustainable partnership for the NGO’s involved.

[Hint > The Twitter Blanket Drive happens in May 2013 so if you haven’t actually done anything by then you know where to find me 🙂 ]

If you are deadly serious about meeting your Promises. Promises. Promises. for 2013 – you may want to check out Gary Ryan Blair is the inspiration behind New Year’s Resolution Week and the person behind “the world’s largest personal change initiative”.  This annual event was founded on the premise, that a single resolution can positively and profoundly create lasting change in your life and help to make the world a better place. I think he’s pretty serious about his resolutions…


One Reply to “Resolving to keep Resolutions…”

  1. Hi Melanie,

    The key thing from this post that resonates with me is the fact that real change only happens over time. I believe that, fundamentally, resolutions set us up for failure because they’re unrealistic. We try to go from zero to hero in a month or two, and then become despondent and give up because it’s not that easy. And as a result, we stop believing in our ability to change. Each year’s failed resolutions reinforce that belief. It’s a vicious circle.

    But by applying principles of continuous improvement and gradual change, you build motivation through a series of small successes. When you look back after a while, you’re then amazed to discover the real and lasting change you’ve created.

    I blogged about this at the end of 2011 myself under a very similar title, actually. 😉

    All the best with your goals and intentions for 2013!

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