Breaking News
More () »

Research shows nearly all New Year's resolutions fail. Why?

By mid-February, research shows around 80% of us will have dropped that new plan for the new year. Why?

INDIANAPOLIS — "The new year symbolizes that opportunity to start fresh so I think it's on everybody's mind," said Jim Richter, the director of clinical services at Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center.

Losing weight, exercising more, maybe cutting down on social media — we've all made new year's resolutions but most of us don't keep them. By mid-February, research shows around 80% of us will have dropped that new plan for the new year. Why?

"When you look at whether or not you'll be successful, how important it is and how much we are going to enjoy what we do determines how successful we're going to be. And, research actually shows that it's enjoyment that determines whether or not we'll be successful," Richter said.

Richter explains just wanting to get to the gym more and knowing you should doesn't mean you'll actually do it.

Instead, find ways to achieve that same goal through things you enjoy — like adding in daily walks or playing tennis. And, make sure you set aside time in your day so you can easily do it.

Richter said it's critical to set resolutions for yourself that are smaller, more reasonable and attainable. If you don't see that progress, you're unlikely to stick with it.

"Even if it's enjoyable, if we don't get immediate rewards from it, we're always highly unlikely not to follow through. So if the impact is going to be six months down the road, I'm less likely to follow through than if I show immediate gains," Richter said. “At the beginning of the year, you’re going to see a lot of people in the gym, by March you’re going to see half as many and by the summer maybe a quarter. It’s giving yourself some time to do it but going back to the enjoyability and immediate gratification factor of setting some small goals along the way that you feel like I’m making progress, I have successes here, I have wins and you continue to do it until it becomes second nature."

Instead of focusing on new year's resolutions offering a temporary shift in habits, Richter said it's vital that these new goals become folded into your daily routine and lifestyle, so it can become a permanent habit you want to hang around throughout the new year.

"Keep it small and try to keep it in what makes sense in your life and you'll have greater odds of following through on it," Richter said.

Before You Leave, Check This Out