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The secret to achieving your resolutions

Saturday January 9 2016

Some of the New Year resolutions that you may have already made or that you may have carried forward from last year. However, as time passes, many of these resolutions fall through the cracks. PHOTO | FILE

Some of the New Year resolutions that you may have already made or that you may have carried forward from last year. However, as time passes, many of these resolutions fall through the cracks. PHOTO | FILE Photo/FILE

SIMON MBURU
By SIMON MBURU
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I will start a new business this year, interact more with friends and family, control my impulse buying, lose weight or eat healthier!’

These are some of the New Year resolutions that you may have already made or that you may have carried forward from last year. However, as time passes, many of these resolutions fall through the cracks. For instance, according to an American study conducted conducted two years ago, while 40 per cent of people make New Year resolutions, only eight per cent achieve them! This study has been supported by findings from a new study published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology.

According to this study, stating your resolutions may be the beginning of their end. Instead, the study, which analysed research from the past 40 years, notes that having question-based resolutions may be the key to achieving your goals. “To bolster a New Year resolution, you should ask rather than tell. If you question a person about performing a future behaviour, the likelihood of that behaviour happening will change,” said Dave Sprott, a co-author of the study.

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The researchers examined more than 100 studies on whether asking people about performing a certain behaviour or task influences whether they’ll perform it or not in the future.

“We found that this question versus behaviour effect is most effective when used to encourage behaviour with personal and socially-accepted norms such as eating healthy, volunteering or on noble consumer purchase ideas,” said Eric Spangenberg, one of the researchers. So for instance, instead of saying “I will eat my vegetables,” it is better to ask yourself, “will you eat your vegetables?”

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It is also better to ask yourself or others close-ended questions that require a simple yes or no answer. Moreover, this technique worked better without a specific time frame for the target behaviour and when used with virtues rather than vices.

This study is echoed by a Roy Baumister, a social researcher and author of Willpower, Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. According to Baumister, rather than say you’re going to lose weight this year by staying away from cake, potato chips or ice cream, it would be easier and more effective for you to follow a specific and workable weight-loss strategy.

He further adds that keeping New Year resolutions will be largely dependent on your energy levels for tasks such as self-control or decision-making. “A day in which you have had to make a number of tough decisions is also likely to be a day you will be tempted not to follow through on your resolutions,” he says. In the same vein, your New Year resolutions should be measurable.

“If you can’t measure your resolutions, then they are probably not viable resolutions. Vague goals beget vague resolutions,” wrote John Norcoss, a researcher who was involved in the analysis of the 40 years of data.

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