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Keeping up those New Year’s resolutions

Hundreds of thousands of people will make a New Year’s resolution – maybe to lose weight, quit smoking or drink less – but only one in 10 will actually achieve their goal.

Professor Richard Wiseman, of the University of Hertfordshire, tracked 5,000 people as they attempted to achieve their New Year’s resolutions. His team found that those who failed tended not to have a plan, which made their resolution soon feel like a mountain to climb.

The key factor which differentiated the 10% that succeeded in achieving their goals and the 90% who did not was that they broke their goals into smaller goals that were specific, measurable and time-based. This helped them feel a constant sense of achievement and made the bridge between ambition to completion much smaller.

Dr Paul Oliver, clinical lead for NHS Nottingham North and East Clinical Commissioning Group, welcomes Professor Wiseman’s research:

“New Year is a time of optimism but also seems to be the time of year when we all suddenly become very hard on ourselves. Many resolutions that are taken are around health. Whether it is losing weight, quitting smoking, exercising more, drinking less alcohol or eating more fruit and veg, more often than not we just can’t achieve our goals.
“Professor Wiseman’s research seems to indicate that this is because we make too many resolutions at the same time and fail to break our aims down into smaller goals. Breaking your goal down into a series of steps and giving yourself a small reward whenever you reach a sub-goal helps maintain motivation and a sense of progress. So, if you intend to make a resolution this year

“I urge you not to be too hard on yourself and to take a few minutes to read Professor Wiseman’s top 10 goal-setting tips which can be found on the NHS Choices website.”

For lots of great advice on losing weight, quitting smoking, getting active, drinking less alcohol and eating more fruit and veg, visit NHS Choices.

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