In a survey of 1000 British adults, we found that 44% made New Year’s resolutions this year.
Only a few weeks into January and almost a fifth (19%) admit to having already been unsuccessful.
Unsurprisingly, after a month of indulging in Christmas treats, losing weight was top of the list for 2017, with 57% citing it as a New Year resolution. Similarly, 45% said theirs is to eat more healthily.
Others plan on curbing their ‘vices’ – giving up alcohol or reducing the amount they drink (19%), or giving up or cutting down on smoking (14%). Some were more financially focused, 46% are planning to save more money and 17% are planning to look for, or get a new job.
Then there are the more unique resolutions:
‘Score 500 at Crossy Road’ (I’ll keep my fingers crossed for you!)
‘Get my book published’
‘Walk 1000 miles in 2017’
The enthusiasm has clearly already worn off for some, and having heard the resolutions that others made, 1 in 10 reported that they should have made more important New Year’s resolutions and 13% felt, on reflection, they should have made more realistic resolutions.
Only 1 in 20 people, now that they have listened to others’ resolutions for the year ahead, feel that they should have made a New Year’s resolution. A further 29% of those who didn’t make any resolutions this year, said they see them as pointless, with almost a fifth (19%) claiming they’re glad that they didn’t make any.
To understand why some people did not succumb to the ‘tradition’ of making resolutions, we asked them to explain in their own words why they didn’t.
‘Always break them’
‘Because I never stick to them’
‘Because they are pointless’
‘Can’t be bothered’
‘Don’t believe in them’
Reasons given FOR setting goals in January:
‘It’s a new year, anything can happen’.
‘Easier when everyone else sees it the same as a fresh start- power in numbers’.
‘The calendar (countdown) starts again which gives a good timeline to achieve my goals’.
‘A new calendar always looks fresh and clean with many interesting things to look forward to already on it and space to add more exciting adventures, and routine things as well’.
‘Because you can say goodbye to the bad things that happened in the previous year’.
‘December 31st is a chance to look back to see achievements and failures, January 1st is a chance to look forward with no achievements or failures to look upon, it’s a clean sheet on which anything can be drawn’.
Reasons given AGAINST setting goals in January:
‘A new year shouldn’t be the trigger for change. You can do it at any time’.
‘A year is an arbitrary time period. I make changes as and when they are warranted’.
‘I cannot see the point of new years resolutions. People should act in a responsible way throughout the year, being honest and decent. They should not have to try to be better just because it is the new year’.
‘If I want to change something in my life, I do that when I feel it is necessary’.
‘I have no interest. I don’t need a new year to make positive changes in my life. If a person really cares about something, they will make a change throughout the year, not just at the start of the year. Most people fail their resolutions because they are too vague’.
Has the tradition of making New Year resolutions simply paved the way for companies to prey on our insecurities?
Some of the people we surveyed believe that making a New Year’s resolution plays into the hands of companies looking to make money out of us;
‘There is absolutely no point in guilt-tripping yourself. A lot of it these days is down to hype from companies trying to sell you products and services you don’t need’.
‘Why pick an artificial point in the calendar to change something? A great marketing ploy for some, safe in the knowledge that they will be paid for their services long after the resolution has been forgotten’.
After the excesses of December, it seems almost inevitable that January brings with it a flood of diet adverts, new diet products, the latest diets and fitness trends and the pressure for some to ‘get back in shape’.
However, despite all this pressure to get back on track with things in January, only 32% of respondents say they will start or continue their diet. For those who’ve seen dieting adverts in January, 15% said they made them feel annoyed, depressed (9%), frustrated (6%). While for others, the ads have made them feel happy (5%) or motivated (12%).
45% claim they are or will be dieting this month specifically because it is the beginning of a new year.
Then there are the diet bores…
I know from past experience that there’s nothing worse (for me at least) than stepping back into the office in the New Year to hear everyone talking about a new diet they’re on, comparing who ate the most over Christmas, and how they’re definitely going to get back in shape! All the while trying to resist the pressure to join in the self-loathing, and trying to accept the way I am can be difficult.
I’m not alone. We asked what people think when their colleagues talk about diets at work. While 50% said they think “Good for them”, almost a fifth said it made them feel they need to lose weight or go on a diet too, while 18% just thought that their colleagues are dieting because others are. Some were pretty unimpressed:
‘It is quite boring hearing people talk about dieting’
‘Incredibly tedious. Diets don’t work because as soon as you ‘ hit ‘ your target weight you put it back on again as you relax. a change of lifestyle is what you want’.
‘That those who do should have done something about it long ago and are prime targets for the fads and cons’
‘It won’t last’
And the pressure to find a partner…
January is also prime time for dating sites and apps to promote their products to help single individuals find the new love of their life this year. Reassuringly, of the 28% of respondents surveyed who said they are not in a relationship, only 9% said they feel under pressure to find a partner this January. When they do see adverts for dating websites or apps in January, 11% said it made them feel depressed, annoyed (9%) or frustrated (6%).
All in all, it’s seems a tale of two halves when it comes to the New Year.
Some see it as a chance to put the last year behind them and start anew while others see it as just another day. Some will take part in the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions – although how many will last beyond January remains to be seen.
So I hereby make a new resolution. Let’s not dwell on a #resolutionfail. Instead let’s be optimistic and supportive of each other in our plans for 2017, and let’s make it one hell of a good year whether we achieve our NY resolutions or not!