Downsizing your resolutions

health pancakes

“How few there are who have courage enough to own their faults, or resolution enough to mend them.” — Benjamin Franklin

 It’s January 2 or thereabouts. Have you kept your New Year’s resolutions so far? Although Ben says our numbers are few, nearly half of us (45 percent) make resolutions every year to make important changes. But only eight percent of us succeed, according to a 2012 study by the Journal of Clinical Psychology of the University of Scranton.

I am among the 38 percent who don’t even bother with resolutions (the remaining 17 percent makes them, but infrequently) because I know I’ll never keep them. Why make a promise to myself that I know I’ll break?

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A new year, with its fresh, pure calendar, is a popular time for people to want to start new healthy habits or breaking unhealthy ones (although relationships and money are common themes as well). Of the ten most popular resolutions three are health-related: to lose weight (38 percent), to get in shape, and to quit smoking. Gyms are packed with people whose intention is to keep going all year, not stop by February. Actually, three-quarters of resolution-makers make it through the first week of the good behavior. By the end of the second week the number has dipped to 71 percent, and by the six-month mark it is only 46 percent.

So why bother if we’re doomed to failure? That urge to be healthier is undaunted, and actually making resolutions makes you more likely to succeed at your goals, ten times more likely, actually, per the same study. But you won’t know if you don’t try, and there are ways to make success more probable.

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