January 06, 2017
In 2015, our top 10 resolutions included losing weight, staying fit and healthy, quitting smoking, and enjoying life to it’s fullest, and in 2016 ‘four in ten Brits vowed to lose weight.’ Sounds like our bodies should be feeling great, right?
Unfortunately, research from the University of Scranton found that only 8% of people continually succeed in their resolutions. With 47% of resolutions being centred on self-improvement and education, it looks like most of us just want to better ourselves, but are struggling to keep at it.
So, we’ve found some tried and tested methods for resolution success to help you get through 2017 as your best self!
Roy F. Baumeister, author of Willpower: Rediscovering our greatest strength tells us that ‘those who try to quit smoking whilst also restricting their eating or cutting back on alcohol tend to fail at all three.’ He conducted ‘The Radish Study’ with four groups of students; one given radishes to eat, one given cookies, one with no food at all, and one with both options - left to choose whether to remain healthy or not.
Credit to theatlantic.com
Then they were taken into a second experiment where they were told to complete a puzzle. This puzzle was incompletable, and they were actually being timed to see how long they lasted before quitting - apparently scientists are just really cruel! Students in control groups who had either been allowed the cookies, or given nothing at all, stuck with the task for around twenty minutes, but students who had just successfully avoided the cookies lasted just eight minutes. They had exhausted their willpower on avoiding the cookies and so had no patience left for the puzzles - and probably were just really hangry!
This is the same with New Year’s resolutions today. We often try to take on too many new behaviours or cut out too many things at once, leaving us with less willpower per task. If you want to really achieve at something, try your resolutions one at a time to make sure your willpower is reserved for the most important resolution.
Kelly McGonigal, author of The Willpower Instinct: How self control works, why it matters, and what you can do to get more out of it, tells us that ‘willpower is a mind-body response, not a virtue. It is a biological function that can be improved through mindfulness, exercise, nutrition, and sleep.’ So sticking to those healthier resolutions can actually improve the willpower needed to keep succeeding at them - it’s a sort-of happy paradox.
More importantly, she also tells us that ‘guilt and shame over your setbacks lead to giving in again, but self-forgiveness and self-compassion boost self-control.’ That means you need to give yourself a break if you slip up and miss a gym-sesh or eat a piece of chocolate. Learn to work with your mistakes and use them to motivate your future decisions by recognising what led to them. Living guilt free and staying positive about the good decisions you make can help you stick to your solutions and feel great about them too.
So you’ve narrowed down your goals and learned to enjoy the journey - all that’s really left is to keep track of the progress!
Keeping a diary is a great way to remind yourself how much you’re achieving. Diaries like the Five Minute Journal are especially useful because they focus on positivity as well as recording parts of your day. It’s also a quick task to complete each day, so won’t intrude too much on the rest of your lifestyle. That way, you should be able to keep your willpower strong when tracking your progress - you’ll also look really poetic and interesting, which is always a plus.
An even more convenient way to do this is by using apps designed to help you track specific changes in your life. Apps like Streaks, Momento, C25K, and Sleepfulness are brilliant at helping you set goals for yourself no matter what your resolution.
Whether you want to eat cleaner, exercise more, sleep easier, or just be better at being you, it’s about knowing what you want to achieve and making sure you take the time to grab it this year. Now you know how to kick 2017’s a**, don’t forget to keep us posted on your health journey by tagging us in your posts @loveraw. Happy 2017!
1, 3- "New Years Resolution Statistics", Statistic Brain, 11 Dec. 2016, http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/. Accessed 3 Jan. 2017
2- "Four in ten Britons vow to lose weight in 2016," You Gov, 8 Jan. 2016, https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/01/08/four-ten-britons-vow-lose-weight-2016/. Accessed 3 Jan. 2017
4- Baumeister, Roy F., John Tierney, Willpower: Rediscovering our greatest strength, (Penguin, UK, 2012)
5- McGonigal, Kelly, The Willpower Instinct: How self control works, why it matters, and what you can do to get more out of it, (Avery, 2011)
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