McGill Expert reveals why most New Year’s resolutions fail and how to succeed

McGill Expert reveals why most New Year’s resolutions fail and how to succeed

By William Crooks

Local Journalism Initiative

According to Dr. Richard Koestner, a psychology professor at McGill University, about half of North Americans regularly make New Year’s resolutions, but statistics reveal that nearly 90 per cent abandon their goals by year’s end. Koestner delves into the psychology behind this widespread phenomenon, offering insights on why so many fail and providing practical strategies for successful goal setting and achievement.

“About 50 per cent of North Americans make [New Year’s] resolutions [regularly],” explained Koestner. Studies have been done wherein people were surveyed before New Year’s as to whether they were thinking of making a resolution, it was recorded what the resolutions made were, and the people were tracked, until six months later, to see if they followed through.

The studies show a basic pattern: 25 per cent drop out in the first week, 30 per cent after two weeks, and around 40 per cent after the first month. Often in January, he said, you will see many new people in the gym that stop going within the first few months. By the end of the year, he continued, all but 10 per cent of people will have given up on their resolution.

“It’s very hard to change our behaviour, our habits,” Koestner admitted. Often, resolutions concern important life changes, like quitting smoking, eating healthy, and exercising more. Those who quit smoking often make up to 10 solid attempts before doing so. The pervasive sense that most people fail in their resolutions discourages many from making any. He still thinks it is worth it, but one should not be too tough with oneself if one fails.

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