Most broken New Year resolutions - and how to keep resolutions

The 10 most broken New Year's resolutions

And how to stick to them!

As the clock struck 12:01 on January 1, many of us resolved to make a change in our diet, exercise habits, or personal finances. Others among us are committed to improving our relationships, spending more time doing what we love, or learning something new. As the year that was 2020 becomes a more distant memory, let’s take a look at how we may progress with these goals statistically speaking.

1. Lose weight and/or exercise more

No surprises here – this takes top place in nearly all studies out there, with 50-60 percent of people failing to keep up this resolution. It is also widely reported that most new January gym memberships are either forgotten by the end of the month or go totally unused.

Learn more: gym memberships are a waste of money

2. Saving money

A US survey put this in second place, and we think the NZ results would be similar.

Reportedly 49 percent of respondents promised to do this.

3. Eat healthier

Year after year, these sorts of goals are placed in the top 10 for the most common and most broken resolution.

The additional kilos we gain over the holiday season often pushes us to make this vow.

4. Break an addiction

This includes quitting smoking or moderating alcohol intake. Quitting smoking has an even lower success rate than we may first think, reportedly only about 15% of people who try to quit achieve this for a six-month period.

Others are trying to break our digital addiction – sometimes called a “digital detox”. According to some studies, we each tap, swipe, and click on our phone 2,617 times every single day.

5. Learn something new

2020 was been a year of learning, because of the global pandemic, many nations went into lockdown and virtual lessons became the main way to attain new knowledge. For years, this resolution has been one of the most popular ones that are also always broken due to lack of time.

6. Reduce stress

Traveling with the kids over summer might not have been the best way to reduce stress, though be mindful that stress is a killer as it is often associated with a range of health impacts including serious diseases. It will do us well to have this on the list and stick to it like glue.

7. Sleep more

Sleep is also essential to overall health. Reputable sources show that one in three adults don’t get enough of it.

The 10 most broken New Year resolutions

8. Spend more time with family

Friends too. This also has great health benefits.

9. Travel to new places

While this particular promise has gone on and off the top of New Year’s resolution lists over the years, because of the limitations we all felt when it came to travel in 2020, this deserves a place on our 2021 list. Although the second wave of the virus may still make this impossible.

10. Volunteer

People choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons. For some it offers the chance to give something back to the community or make a difference to the people around them. For others it provides an opportunity to develop new skills or build on existing experience and knowledge. Regardless of the motivation, most volunteers find it both challenging and rewarding.

The bottom line

So, what can we do to stop ourselves from failing at keeping these vows we might have made to ourselves?

  • Talk about it. Share experiences and what we aim to achieve with supportive family and friends.
  • Practically prepare for a change. Identify potential resistance to our progress and our game plan if we encounter those situations – if we’re trying to eat better, we should remove our favourite salty or sweet snacks from the cupboard!
  • Be realistic. Trying to do it all at once is a surefire recipe for failure. Take one achievable step at a time.
  • Set a timeframe. A deadline can help keep us focused on what we want to attain.
  • Write it down. A written document can also serve as a reminder to act whenever we’re veering away from our target.
  • Technological help. Trying to cut back on calories or carbs? Use online calories or carb calculators. Need to exercise more? Invest in a smartwatch designed for fitness. Want to be more productive? Use task management apps. There’s new technology coming online every day to help us on our way.
  • Chunk down. Large goals can be broken into more manageable pieces.
  • No self-beating. Perfection is unattainable. Remember that minor missteps when reaching our goals are completely normal and okay.
  • Get support. Accepting help from those who care about us and will listen strengthens our resilience and ability to manage stress caused by our resolution. If we feel overwhelmed or unable to meet our goals on our own, we can seek professional help. Psychologists may be able to assist – they are uniquely trained to understand the connection between the mind and body and can offer strategies as to how to adjust our goals so that they are attainable, as well as help us change unhealthy behaviors and address any underlying emotional issues.
  • Celebrate the wins. Each resolution that is achieved -- whether it be big or small -- deserves to be celebrated. This doesn’t have to be extravagant; it could be as simple as a picnic or going out to dinner. Recognising achievements helps us stay on the right path.