The Scientific Way to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Learn Spanish? Finally kick that nasty smoking habit? Become a master cook? Whatever you’ve decided to accomplish next year, you know all too well that you’re probably going to fail, and that your carefully crafted list of goals will remain unfinished. I’m sorry, but it’s true.

We know that many of you have given up on making any resolutions altogether, so we’re here to assist – this year, with a little help from science, we believe you’ll actually have a shot at making some serious life changes. Are you ready?

British psychologist Richard Wiseman has done numerous studies on self-discipline – in 2007 he tracked the success of 3,000 people’s New Year’s resolutions, just to find that a mere 12 percent of them actually accomplished exactly what they had set out to do. He checked out exactly what the effective people were doing differently, and – based on their experience – developed a list of ideas for others who wish to actually succeed with their New Year’s resolutions instead of failing year after year, wondering what wen’t wrong.

Before we dive into the gritty details, it’s worth mentioning that the number one thing to stop depending on is your own willpower – that’s basically the worst technique to keeping a resolution, and is the reason that a lot of us never ever start working out more, continue consuming all that fried chicken, and still cannot speak a word of French.

So, what actually does work? As Wiseman discussed on his blog site back in 2013, your goals must be small and workable, you must document your success, inform others about your intentions, and, importantly, not beat yourself up for failing. Here’s the total list of Wiseman’s recommendations:

  1. If possible, make only one resolution – altering a great deal of things at when is more tough.
  2. Think about your resolutions beforehand, and spend a long time to review them.
  3. Don’t re-visit past failures, however focus on brand-new resolutions instead.
  4. Focus on exactly what you truly want – do not just choose exactly what’s fashionable.
  5. Break your objective into workable, concrete actions with certain due dates.
  6. Go public – tell your friends, household, social networks about your goals, which will increase your fear of failure and likewise garner support.
  7. Create a checklist concentrating on how much better your life will be once you’ve achieved your goals.
  8. Whenever you make development on the actions to your objective, provide yourself a little benefit.
  9. Document your journey – charts, spreadsheets, journals and other ways of tracking your progress will keep it concrete.
  10. Don’t beat yourself up and give up if you sometimes go back to old routines – treat it as a momentary setback.

Now you’ve got the knowledge, so what are you going to do with it? Another year of failing miserably at your goals, or a year of success? This may sound a little harsh, but that’s tough love for you. I want each of you to succeed, whether it’s in getting strong or finally mastering the Yo-Yo.



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I'm a co-founder and writer here at Unfinished Man. I write, manage the look and feel of the website, and make sure that nothing breaks. I also reply to the vast majority of our emails, so if you're sending one through, I suggest you be nice. Everyone says I'm the least offensive of our writers, so they gave the email jockey task to me. When I'm not improving the site, I write about fashion, video games, politics, and anything related to science and technology.

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