Research Says These 3 Questions Will Help Your New Year’s Resolution Stick

By Maria Miller, MA, PLPC

It’s that time of year again: The gym parking lot is packed, new budgets are set, and mindfulness apps have been downloaded. If you are like many of our clients, you have high hopes for a new year filled with personal achievements, a better quality of life, and loads of wellbeing. And we believe you can do it! However, on average, only 9-12% of people keep their New Year’s Resolution going though the end of the year. How can you leverage your odds for year-long success & achievement?

Victor Vroom, a motivation researcher at Yale, found that motivation increased when a series of questions could be answered affirmatively. Before you dive into the questions, I’d like you to consider your own New Year’s resolution & the goal it achieves. For examples, you may be wanting to practice mindfulness 5 minutes per day to achieve a less anxious mind. What is it that you want to try out this year? When you have your goal in mind, answer these questions for yourself:

  1. On a scale of 1-5, how important is this goal to you? If it’s below a 4, you may ask yourself if you’ve chosen a personally meaningful goal. If not, can you consider a different goal that means more to you?
  2. On a scale of 1-5, how likely is it that someone could take clear steps to achieve this goal? For example, losing 5 pounds is a goal that people can, and have, achieved. Discovering the next big energy breakthrough to combat climate change is a bit more fuzzy. In the example of mindfulness & anxiety, a 5 minute meditation break is a very clear and actionable step towards less anxiety.
  3. On a scale of 1-5, how likely is it that this solution will work for YOU? How much do you believe that success is possible for you? In the example of mindfulness & anxiety, do you believe that 5 minutes of meditation per day will result in a less anxious mind? If your answer is below a 4, you may want to think about what other, more achievable solutions could help you reach your goal.

Now that you have your answers, I invite you to think of where you might increase your number. Which of the three prompts had the lowest number, and how could you increase it by 1 point?

This New Year, create a resolution that’s more likely to stick. Thinking through these prompts will help you get clear on where your motivation might lag and how you can create something more meaningful & actionable. Still feeling stuck? Bring these questions to your therapist or a good friend and tease it out together.

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