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New Years Resolutions: What are the numbers and how do we achieve our goals?

It’s the second week of January, and most of us begin the new year with a goal in mind.

It’s an opportunity for a fresh start and to build new routines that can improve our lives and our mental wellbeing. This can involve either quitting previously bad habits or starting new activities.

The numbers

A recent survey has found that this year (2023) 30 million people around the UK will have made new year’s resolutions, with health (28%), money (27%), family (24%) and self-improvement (21%) topping the charts for the most common resolutions. 

However, lifestyle changes are hard to maintain and commit to. Recent statistics suggest that, on average, British adults are only likely to last seven weeks before giving up a new habit, and 21% of British adults only lasted for a month before breaking.

Yet, it’s not all bad news! One study from 2020 showed that mentally setting yourself a target can be very beneficial in achieving your results: “At a one-year follow-up, 55% of responders considered themselves successful in sustaining their resolutions.

Participants with approach-oriented goals were significantly more successful than those with avoidance-oriented goals (58.9% vs. 47.1%).

The group that received some support was exclusively and significantly more successful compared to the other two. This study reveals that New Year’s resolutions can have lasting effects, even at a one-year follow-up.

What can we do?

So, what do we need to do to be not only successful but happy whilst we attempt our journeys of self-improvement?

Be specific

Plan for how you are going to achieve your goals. If you are wanting to improve your health, set a specific target to exercise a set number of days a week, or join a sporting group. Just the goal of ‘improving health’ is too vague.

Be measured

Make sure you are able to measure your progress, can you log each time you exercise in a notepad? Can you count how many steps you’ve taken each week? Or if your goal is to improve your sleep, can you see how many hours of sleep you manage each week?

Make sure your goals are achievable

Don’t make 100 new goals at one time, focus on one goal at a time. This is going to make your challenge much more management and will boost your confidence as you go. Changing everything in one go can lead to burn-out and result in biting off more than you can chew.

One step at a time still means you are walking down the road to success.

Be realistic

If your goal is to walk more this year, setting your goal in the first week of 100,000 steps isn’t realistic, what does your schedule and your physical and mental health allow at this time, and what are the incremental steps you can take to achieve your goal?

Set a timed target

Give yourself a date or a window of time to complete your goal. Procrastination is easy for everyone to fall into, and ‘I’ll start tomorrow’ is a comforting thought, but if we give ourselves a date or amount of time to complete a task we are much less likely to avoid working on our goals, it also means we can re-assess our goals at the end of our challenge and set ourselves new ambitions.

Support is always available

No matter what your goal is, there is always support available to help you along the way, as the 2020 study shows we are much more likely to achieve meaningful changes if we receive support from others. So reach out to a friend, find a mentor or contact a local charity or support group to help with your 2023 resolutions, because people DO want to help, and you ARE worth it.

If you have any questions about his article or want to seek support for your mental health or get active, please get in touch.

Here to help

If you’re struggling with your mental health, try and talk to someone you trust. Oxfordshire Mind’s Information Service can provide you with free support, and access to local mental health services. Phone: 01865 247788, or email info@oxfordshiremind.org.uk.