New Year's Resolutions are popular but there isn't much research about how well we do. Fortunately, Martin Oscarsson and his team studied over a thousand people to see what works.
Not surprisingly, they found that the most popular resolutions were physical health, weight loss, and eating habits.
Goals Make a Difference
After a full year, the most successful group reached nearly 59% compared to a group that reached about 47%. The difference between the groups was the type of goal.
Successful people focused on goals they reached for (approach-oriented).
The lower success people worked on goals to avoid something (avoidance oriented).
The participants were randomly assigned to 3 groups.
Group 1 did not receive support.
Group 2 received some support-- they learned about the value of support and received information and guidance on achieving personal goals.
Group 3 received extended support beyond that received in Group 2. For example, they learned more about setting effective goals and they received more emails.
The most successful people were in Group 2.
Oscarsson, M., Carlbring, P., Andersson, G., & Rozental, A. (2020). A large-scale experiment on New Year's resolutions: Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals. PloS one, 15(12), e0234097. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234097
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