New Year's resolutions - how to make them and keep them

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Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Making a New Year’s resolution is easy, but sticking to one is not. A Professor from The University of Western Australia uses empirically tested strategies in her teaching that could give people the tools they need to keep the promises they make to themselves on New Year’s Eve.

UWA Professor Marylene Gagne specialises in organisational behaviours and is particularly interested in what motivates people. She says that it is common for people to break New Year’s resolutions but it is possible for people to succeed if they follow a few simple rules.

“Firstly, commit to a resolution for the right reasons – because it’s meaningful to you,” Professor Gagne said.

“A common resolution is to drop a few kilos. But ask yourself if you want to do it to be healthier or because you want to look better for someone else? It’s better to do things because they are important to you.”

Next, be specific about what you want to achieve.

Rather than saying you will get fit in 2018, ask yourself how you will get fit and what days and times you will dedicate to the task. Be realistic about your ability to commit and be very precise about how you will achieve your goal. Think about things like dealing with distractions and if there will be other demands on your time. That way you are setting yourself up to succeed.

Motivation experts generally agree on one thing: if you don’t succeed try again.

“An achievement like giving up cigarettes is very difficult but really worth doing,” Professor Gagne said.

“If you find that you lapse into bad habits by the second week of January, make a new resolution. Eventually you will succeed.”

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