Many people do not have enough willpower to make their New Year’s resolutions last longer than a week, new research has shown.
Good intentions to quit smoking, stop drinking alcohol at home or eat healthier food will be far more successful if people get support to meet their goals, according to health campaigners Change4Life.
Researchers followed 2,000 people who made a two-week resolution and found that those who relied solely on their own willpower failed even before the half-way stage.
The study, led by psychologist Professor Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, monitored progress as the participants made healthy changes to their behaviour.
Just 26% of those who relied on willpower managed to keep to their goal. However, 35% of those who tried other techniques had better success.
The study also found that women were less resilient at sticking to resolutions, with just 30% being successful in keeping to their healthy change compared to 37% of men who took part.
And those who told family and friends about their plans were far more likely to succeed in achieving their goal.
The research found other techniques for success included visualising or imagining a better life once the goal is achieved.
Professor Wiseman, the author of 59 Seconds: Think a little, Change a lot, which was the Independent on Sunday’s 2010 paperback of the year, said: “All too often New Year’s resolutions fail because people try to do too much too soon and don’t seek the right support to help them achieve their goals. It is important that we use as much advice and support to see us through the New Year commitments, remembering that overall simple small changes work better and are more achievable in the long run.”
Change4Life says nine out of 10 children are at risk of growing up with dangerous amounts of fat in their bodies and 61% of adults are overweight or obese. It will launch a new campaign for 2011 on Sunday. The Great Swapathon aims to encourage people to embark on simple swaps to improve their lifestyle, such as swapping the car for walking or fizzy drinks for water, milk or fruit juice.