Every January without fail, millions of us swear allegiance to the gym. Less than 30 days later and our trainers are already screaming neglect from yet another New Year’s resolution going down the pan.
So just why are we so bad at sticking to our January promises?
“Our resolutions go back to the new year, new start idea,” explains coaching psychologist, author and member of the British Psychology Society, Jessica Chivers.
“In many ways, we see merit in making improvements in our lives. It’s romantic and exciting to swear you’re going to do something – but we’re not so good at fulfilling those objectives.”
Whether you want to quit smoking, find true love or do one new thing every day, the road to achieving a New Year’s resolution looks hindered before we’ve even began.
A study byYouGov found that slightly more than one in five Brits (21 per cent) made vows to themselves for 2017.
Women were more likely to have made resolutions than men (24 per cent versus 17 per cent), whilst younger people are more likely to have made them than their elder peers, with 33 per cent of 18-24 year olds and 23 per cent of 25 to 49-year-olds having made resolutions compared to just 15-16 per cent of those aged 50 and upwards.
However, gym owners can rest assured that their annual bonanza looks set to continue another year, with the survey finding that health resolutions are the most common.
Almost half (48 per cent) of those who made a resolution in 2017 said that they wanted to lose weight, whilst 31 per cent said they wanted to improve their diet. Women were particularly more likely to have made these resolutions than men.
Four in 10 people (41 per cent) also said they would be exercising more or improving their fitness.
But those good intentions only go so far, so are we too weak or just lazy to stick to them?
According to Jessica: “We simply ask too much of ourselves.
“We’re making quite a significant change and in a very black and white way.”
Resolutions can often be expensive or too difficult, they can also take up too much time and we’re often unrealistic about what we can achieve – there’s no denying New Year’s resolutions are hard to stick by, so is it all about the willpower?
Willpower is referred to as a mental muscle, it’s something you can train but also something that can diminish over years.
If willpower can’t be changed, then the perception to the resolution can instead as Jessica explains.
“It’s all or nothing thinking so if we’ve set ourselves of going to the gym three times a week and on the first week we only go once many people will see that as ‘I didn’t do it, I’ve failed, I can’t do it’ and not go to the gym at all next week. It could be reinterpreted as ‘I went to the gym this week, that’s a great start!’”
By reducing what we set out to achieve, we’re giving ourselves a much greater chance at success.
Set about gradual change by making small alterations for to your daily – instead of smoking 10 cigarettes, smoke nine; instead of taking the bus the entire way to work, get off two stops earlier and walk.
According to NHS Choices, we’re more likely to succeed if we break our resolutions into smaller goals. Here are some of their top tips to help you on the road to success:
Make only one resolution
Your chances of success are greater when you channel your energy into changing just one aspect of your behaviour.
Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to set your resolution
Instead, take some time out a few days before and think about exactly what it is you want to achieve.
Avoid previous resolutions
Deciding to revisit a past resolution will only set you up for frustration and disappointment.
Don’t run with the crowd
Don’t just opt for the same old resolutions everyone chooses. Instead, think about what you really want out of life.
Break it down
Once you’ve decided what you want to achieve, break your goal into a series of steps, focusing on creating sub-goals which are concrete, measurable and time-based.
Tell friends and family
By letting other people know about your goals, you’re more likely to get support and want to avoid failure.
Expect to revert
Chances are that you will slip back into your old habits from time to time. Treat any failure as a temporary setback rather than a reason to give up altogether.