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New Year resolutions 'already planned'

WebMD UK Health News
Medically Reviewed by Dr Sheena Meredith

4th November 2013 - New research has found that 71% of us are so keen to make changes in our lives we're already planning our New Year resolutions, even though it's only the first week in November.

Two thousand people across the UK were questioned last month for the lifestyle magazine, Psychologies, about their planned New Year health resolutions. 52% of those surveyed said they would be focusing on losing weight; 43% said they were looking to make changes to their general health; 18% of those surveyed said they wanted to improve their fitness and 15% said that they needed to reduce the stress and anxiety in their lives.

However, despite the fact that 20% of people questioned said they were 'desperate' to make a change they were still putting it off until January 1st and even then only 11% thought they were very likely to stick to the changes they were already planning for 2014.

Start today

Around 72% of the UK makes New Year resolutions but the majority admit they've failed to succeed in the past, with 68% giving up in January.

As many as 12% of those questioned said they were 'seeking help for an existing health concern'. In that case asks Suzy Greaves, life coach and editor of Psychologies, why wait? In an email she told us: "Our research shows that the first week in November is when we start thinking about making changes to our lives. Why on earth wait for 1st January - the coldest, most miserable time in the year when you're hungover, skint and in hibernation mode? Start today. It takes a minimum of 66 days to create sustainable habits in your life so if you started today, by January 2014, you will have created a strong foundation on which to build a brilliant 2014."

Boycott New Year resolutions

Suzy Greaves told us she was surprised by the findings of the survey, especially the fact that so many people still make New Year resolutions: "What on earth are we doing?! New Year's Resolutions just don't work. (Our research showed that 68% of us give up within the first month.) That's why we're calling for a total ban on them - starting now! It's madness repeating the same behaviour but expecting different results. New Year's Resolutions set us up to fail, make us feel miserable and just create more evidence that change is not possible - which is such a disempowering, dispiriting thing to believe. Of course, change is possible. We just need to know how to create change in a realistic, doable way and that's what our special report is all about. Creating sustainable change is actually very simple."

Small changes, big results

She says New Year resolutions focus on one huge goal, like 'being healthy' and we feel that we should be able to magically transform our behaviour overnight, rather than implementing smaller changes that work towards the bigger goal, over a realistic time period.

"Habit formation is about repeating behaviours over and over again for at least 66 days until it becomes automatic. You can't change a habit overnight. It is utterly unrealistic and we are setting ourselves up to fail to expect anything different. At Psychologies, we're trying to educate people about what really does work. We should be taught about habit formation in schools - because it can have such a positive and brilliant impact on people's lives. If you can learn how to change your habits, the world is your oyster - you will be able to achieve anything."

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