Whether it’s something about yourself that you’d like to change, or something new you’d like to try, a resolution is often a plan to enrich your lifestyle in some way, shape, or form. Many people try to implement resolutions each January, as the new year is ushered in. However, our societal emphasis on self-betterment and goal setting throughout the year has led to the question of whether individuals still continue to make New Year’s resolutions, and whether or not this is an effective vehicle for change.

A recent study from the University of Scranton found that 42 per cent of Americans never make New Year’s resolutions, while only eight per cent of those who do are successful in committing to them fully. Data reported from the same study showed that 73 per cent of individuals maintain their New Year’s resolutions throughout the first week after they’re made, while only 45 per cent are maintaining them six months later.

These numbers should not be taken to mean that people are not seeing room for improvement in their current lifestyle. Rather, many people are simply no longer waiting for the calendar to hit January 1 before deciding to make a change. While society constantly reinforces the importance of healthy active living and personal growth, people are making plans to achieve their goals on a regular basis.

Whether it’s scribbling down a few words on a page, typing a couple of sentences into a smartphone, or reflecting on the past year, a resolution is simply another way of setting a goal. As easy as this may seem, people who want to change certain habits in the new year often fall prey to a common misconception. Many habits are formed and followed unconsciously, resulting in the difficulty of breaking or even changing them. Since many people simply do not understand the science behind these psychological patterns, this makes it much more unlikely that the resolutions made by these individuals will be fulfilled.

Three critical steps involved in the creation of a successful new habit are choosing a small action, attaching the action to an existing habit, and picking something easy enough to complete for at least a week. Resolutions may fail for several reasons, but one of the most prominent is setting goals that are too lofty, leading people to become overwhelmed in making plans to achieve them. Awareness of these essential factors will help people avoid disappointment in failing to keep their New Year’s resolutions.

After all, if a person is serious about implementing change in their life, they don’t usually wait for the new year to begin. If you want to make a change, there’s no time like the present.

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