A year-long study by psychologist Richard Wiseman has been looking into New Year’s Resolutions and what helps people to stick to them, and it’s come up with some useful findings. Interestingly, they have been able to generalise that different things work for men and women.

The main findings in brief:

  • Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to decide on your resolution – take time to reflect on what’s really important to you and what you want to achieve.

For men:

  • Make your goals specific and measurable. Make a plan, mapping out the steps to your goal, and stick to it. Put the plan where you can see it.
  • Focus on the benefits of achieving your goal. Again, list these benefits and put the list where you can see it every day.

For women:

  • Go public. Tell someone about your resolution, to make it less likely that you will forget about it.
  • Get encouragement – if you slip from your resolution, having someone to encourage you will get you back on track again.

The results were written up in these articles in the Guardian and the Daily Telegraph, although there aren’t many details on Wiseman’s own web site. The advice is pleasingly in line with what I’ve written in previous blog entries about goal setting.

Of course, these are generalisations – some of what they found worked for most men may still help if you are a woman, and vice versa. There’s nothing to stop you using all Wiseman’s tips in combination to give yourself the greatest chance of success. And remember – New Year is just an arbitrary date. You can start making changes in your life at any time.

New Year’s Resolutions – what works, for women and men

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