Will You Keep Your New Year Resolutions?

It’s a good game, isn’t it – making massive resolutions in January so you can have guilt pangs about not sticking with them all through February! We’re probably all triumphs of hope over experience when it comes to making New Year resolutions.

Richard Wiseman, a UK psychologist, undertook some research into new year resolutions; his team tracked over 3,000 people attempting to do a whole range of things, like losing weight, using the gym, quitting smoking or drinking less.

Men and Women ARE Different

Perhaps unsurprisingly to all of us who have not managed to keep our resolutions going past Valentine’s Day, they concluded that New Year’s Eve is not a great time for making resolutions, and that you have more chance of success if you plan ahead for the changes you want to make.

They also found some interesting gender differences in achieving success. For men, the secret of success lies in setting specific goals and focusing on the rewards you will get if you achieve them. For women, the best way to keep a resolution is to tell people about it. At the start of the project 52% of the participants were confident of success but Dr Wiseman found that only 12% actually kept to their new year resolutions…


Men were 22% more likely to succeed when they set goals for themselves, such as losing a pound a week rather than losing weight in general. In addition, men tended to succeed when they focused on rewards, such as losing weight to become more attractive to the opposite sex. “Men may be more likely to adopt a macho attitude and have unrealistic expectations, and so simple goal setting helps them achieve more,” said Dr. Wiseman.


Women were more successful at keeping their resolutions when they told family and friends about their plans. They also responded better to encouragement not to give up if they snuck back to old habits temporarily – such as treating a chocolate binge as simply one minor setback and not a total failure. Telling others increased women’s chance of keeping resolutions by 10%, although sometimes they were reluctant to do so, losing a valuable source of support. (See this article about the importance of  women’s friendships)

Most Likely to Succeed

The researchers found that the resolutions most likely to succeed were:
Enjoy life more, (32% of people stayed with it)
Improve your fitness (29%)
Lose weight (28%)
Be more organised (27%)
Quit or cut down drinking (25%)
Quit or cut down smoking (24%)

What’s your most frequently made resolution?

You can read more about this in The Luck Factor by Dr Richard Wiseman available from your local library, book shop, or via Amazon


Posted on December 31st, 2010 by

One Response to “Will You Keep Your New Year Resolutions?”

  1. Hi Jane, I’m not officially making “resolutions,” however, you know me, I am always making goals and working toward them. 2010 was a great “start-up” year for my 27 year old business. I’m already excited about how I can implement new business and personal goals for 2011.

    I think your point about telling people about your goals and even having an accountability partner makes it more likely you will succeed.

    Sometimes we need to invest in a coach or an expert to help us make a change. As a Personal Development Specialist for Women, I bet you have helped many women reach their goals, right? Knowing how to keep someone accountable is a skill that many people don’t have.

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