Making a New Year's Resolution is a standard practice for the start of January but almost 4 in 10 people have given in within 2 weeks.
Of those that plan to or are thinking about giving something up for 2013 almost a fifth said they would cut down on alcohol. Other popular New Year’s resolutions were to spend less money, cut down on chocolate, and go to the gym.
Results were revealed in a survey conducted by Cancer Research UK who are looking for volunteers to sign up for its new fundraising campaign, Dryathlon™, which is encouraging people across the UK to test their willpower and take the challenge of staying off alcohol for January, raising money for a good cause at the same time.
More than 4 in 10 say lack of willpower is to blame for why we fail our New Year’s resolutions, so Jon Lipsey, editor for Dryathlon partner, Men's Fitness, offers five top tips on how to stick to your guns when the going gets tough:
1. CHOOSE ONE THING
To start, pick one habit that will have the biggest impact on your life if changed and focus on it. Planning to hit the gym, give up Facebook and eat better all at once is taking on too much, according to research carried out by BJ Fogg, a psychologist and author of Persuasive Technology. Do the first thing for a month, then you can add more changes.
2. MAKE IT EASY
Don’t start by planning to train for an hour every day or eat nothing but meat and veg if that’s a huge change in your habits. It won’t happen. ‘If you’re working out, aim for five to ten minutes a day,’ says Leo Babauta, author of The Power Of Less. ‘If you’re planning to de-clutter your home, start with one drawer rather than your whole house.’ The positive feedback from these tiny goals will help you tackle bigger tasks later.
3. IGNORE THE NEGATIVES
Focusing on what you’re not going to do can lead to a ‘behavioural ironic rebound’ – or, more simply, if you resolve to stop eating cake, you’ll eat more cake. According to research from Utrecht University in the Netherlands, you should focus on positives rather than negatives, such as resolving to eat more veg and protein.
4. USE IF/THEN PATTERNS
Programme your brain as you would a computer and you won’t need to wrestle with temptation all the time, says Professor Mark Conner of the University of Leeds. ‘Set up cues that prompt your planned behaviour,’ he suggests. For instance, ‘if I feel hungry before lunch then I will eat an apple, not a chocolate bar’. Conserving willpower in this way also means you’ll have more left over for other things.
5. GET HELP
Joining forces with a partner boosts your chances of sticking to your resolutions, according to Conner’s research. When groups were told to make if/then plans with and without the help of friends, those who used a support group saw vastly increased chances of success. And besides, you’ll need someone to spot you on the bench.
Ed Aspel, Head of Dryathlon™ at Cancer Research UK said:
“We wanted to find out how good the great British public are at sticking to those fabled New Year’s Resolutions, which it turns out we find harder to stick to than we might think. We’d encourage the fifth of us who already plan to cut down on alcohol to go one step further and give Dryathlon a go – by raising some much needed cash to help beat cancer, you’ll have an even better reason to make it past the two week mark and stick to the Resolution for the whole of January.”