Professor Richard Wiseman at the University of Hertfordshire has been studying New Year's resolutions, looking for the winning formula. in 2007, Wiseman tracked 3,000 people to study their resolution behavior. They made their resolutions on January 1 of this year and each followed one of four methods. Only 12% were successful—and the methods for success were not the same for men and women.
To stick to your resolutions, Wiseman recommends that men use the SMART method (goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based), and focus on rewards. Women are more likely to succeed if they tell others about their goals.
From "New Year's resolutions different for the sexes" (The Daily Telegraph):
Tips for men
• Focus on creating goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-based (SMART), says Prof Wiseman.
For example, instead of thinking "I want to find a new job" focus on creating bite-sized, measurable goals for each week, such as rewriting your CV and then applying for one new job every two weeks.
Map out the step-by-step mini-goals that will slowly but surely take you to where you want to be, make a note of them in a diary, and stick to the plan.
• Focus on how much better life will be for you, and those around you, when you achieve your resolution. For example, if you want to quit smoking, make a list of the benefits of giving up, and place it somewhere prominent in your house.
. . .
Tips for Women
• Women who keep their New Year's resolution to themselves make it too easy to forget. Instead, go public.
For example, write down your resolution on a large sheet of paper, sign it, and place it somewhere prominent in your house. Tell your friends, family and colleagues and ask them to provide you with helpful nudges to assist you in achieving your goal.
. . .
Read more about the study in "New year resolution? Don't wait until New Year's Eve" (The Guardian)
Click to participate in the 2008 New Year's resolution study and get some helpful advice to keep your resolutions.
Image credit: ulteriormotive69 at photobucket
Note (added December 30, 2007, 2:25 PM Mountain): In this post, Susan Cartier Liebel talks about blogging as one way to go public and receive those helpful nudges.