Two weeks into 2016, an estimated three in 10 New Year’s resolutions have already been tossed aside like old Powerball tickets.
By year’s end, only 8 percent of those well-intended promises will have been kept.
Those findings, from University of Scranton researchers, ring true with local experts in psychology and fitness.
“By and large, when you look at people six months later and evaluate how well they did … typically they are not wildly successful,” John Tauer, a psychology professor at the University of St. Thomas, said in a recent article.
Top resolutions per the Scranton research include losing weight, getting organized, saving more and enjoying life.
One cause of the washout rate is that picking resolutions on New Year’s Eve is more like participating in a party game than committing to change. But for those who are serious, one problem is setting goals that are vague.
Brian Tietz of Life Time Fitness said setting specific and attainable fitness goals is more likely to work, especially if people write them down and measure them frequently.
“Schedule it in, get it on the calendar, and set some small goals,” said Tietz, who manages personal training at Life Time’s Target Center facility.
Those seeking to lose weight, for example, might target one to two pounds per week, he said. “Any more and it’s hard to maintain and psychologically difficult, because if you don’t maintain that result, you get frustrated.”
Life Time surveyed 1,000 people about why they struggled to stick to their resolutions: 33 percent said lack of time and 25 percent said willpower.
Busy people might start to attack health goals with better nutrition, because “everybody’s gotta eat,” Tietz said, or by adding exercise during can’t-miss TV shows. He said his mother-in-law dropped 30 pounds and weaned herself off diabetes medications by using a treadmill while watching TV.
As for willpower, resolution keepers often have people around them who support them or have shared goals or interests, Tietz said. “It’s the ‘birds of a feather flock together’ thing.”