- Many people set themselves goals at the beginning of a new year
- Yet, these goals are often not achieved
- Researchers explain that success lies in the way we state our resolutions
Whether it’s losing weight or starting a new hobby – we are all familiar with setting ambitious goals for the new year, only to find ourselves a few months later having achieved nothing.
Fortunately, according to a recent study, it's fairly easy to increase the chances of successfully achieving your New Year’s resolutions.
The secret to success
The secret to success lies in the way you phrase your resolution, according to researchers.
This conclusion was reached after conducting a large-scale experiment with 1 066 participants from the general public.
“We investigated what resolutions people make when they are free to formulate them, whether different resolutions reach differing success rates, and whether it is possible to increase the likelihood of a resolution’s success,” the researchers explained.
After formulating their resolutions, the participants were divided into three groups based on the amount of support they got through the year: one group got no support at all, the other had only some support and the third group received extended support.
Scientists found that some of the most popular resolutions involved physical health, losing weight and eating habits.
Co-author of the study, Professor Per Carlbring, said, “It was found that the support given to the participants did not make much of a difference when it came down to how well participants kept their resolutions throughout the year. What surprised us were the results on how to phrase your resolution.”
Findings indicate that participants were more successful when they phrased their resolution starting with “I will start to” than when they phrased it “I will quit/avoid”.
This means that participants were less successful at what researchers describe as avoidance-oriented goals (quitting or staying away from something), and more successful when setting approach-oriented goals (adopting a new habit).
Is it really as easy as changing the way you phrase your resolution?
According to Professor Carlbring, “In many cases, rephrasing your resolution could definitely work. For example, if your goal is to stop eating sweets in order to lose weight, you will most likely be more successful if you say 'I will eat fruit several times a day' instead.
"You then replace sweets with something healthier, which probably means you will lose weight and also keep your resolution. You cannot erase a behaviour, but you can replace it with something else.”