New Years Resolutions…. I decided to procrastinate this year by musing about this tradition from a social-psychological paradigm. Here are some facts and figures to keep in mind this New Year:
WILL POWER- A real form of mental energy. It can actually be measured! We have a limited supply of it. It actually runs on glucose (sugars released into the bloodstream after we eat), which is one of the major reasons I don’t believe in “dieting” (think about it…) Will-power translates directly to self-control.
SELF-CONTROL- The ability to master competing motivations. A key factor in knowing when / how to exercise personal restraint.
TEN: A study published in 2004 by Dr. John Norcross, of the University of Scranton, suggests that you are ten times more likely to change if you have a formal resolution compared to those who don’t.
SUCCESS RATE- The act of reaching your identified goal. Of course, the goal has to be realistic, but research suggests that a major part of this is accountability.
ACCOUNTABILITY- The more you are willing to put at stake, the better your outcome. Here are some rough numbers (taken from 2012 NYT article:
- 30% : approximate success rate, in general, when you set a goal (ouch)
- 60%- success rate when you hold yourself socially accountable (i.e., reporting to a friend or a support group on progress / setbacks towards goal)
- 80%: Success rate when you include social accountability (see above) AND a financial penalty
READINESS TO CHANGE: this is a key predictor in successfully changing a behavior or lifestyle pattern. It has nothing to do with your desire to change. SO, you can be “ready” to change, even if you don’t totally want to. This is an important distinction to make; I personally find comfort in knowing that I can change things that need to change in my life, even if I’m not enthusiastic about doing so.
OUTSOURCING- The act of drawing on support from others to aid in self-control ***I suggest you go beyond Facebook and Twitter (please!)-- you can find tons of free websites that are designed to help you set goals, track progress, compete against others who are striving for similar goals, etc. Check out: 43things; startaresolution; hassleme; stickk; habitforge; joesgoals. Smart-phone apps are another great resource: track your sleep, calories, budget, blood-pressure, time-management.... you name it, there’s an app for it. Get to clicking, ladies!
Image of Lithe Instructor in training Cate Rigoulot via Dom