Setting Better New Years Resolutions


What is it about January that makes people want to be better? Even though we are in the depths of winter (at least here in Canada) we are just coming out of the holidays and ready to start a new year, and for many people, a “new you”.  Yes, January is the time for New Years Resolutions, when gym membership increases by 40%. Followed closely by the fitness cliff, which is the day when New Year’s Resolutions die.

This January, we are taking a cue from Michael Jackson and rather than talking about strategies to change other people’s behaviours we will start with the man in the mirror. By understanding what tools help us to make changes in ourselves, we can see how to help others make lasting behaviour changes.

Change is HARD!

According to the University of Scranton, only 8% of people are able to keep their New Years Resolutions. That is why it is so important to look beyond information in social marketing campaigns, even when people know the importance and wish to do something, 92% of them STILL can’t change. Do those 8% just have more willpower than the rest of us?  Not so! Strong will is not a personality trait, but more like a muscle that can be exercised and strengthened.

What are 92% of people doing wrong?

Part of the problem with New Years Resolutions is that they are not specific enough. Here is the list of top 10 New Years Resolution from the study at the University of Scranton:

  1. Lose weight
  2. Getting organized
  3. Spend less save more
  4. Enjoying life to the fullest
  5. Staying fit and healthy
  6. Learn something exciting
  7. Quit smoking
  8. Help others in their dreams
  9. Fall in love
  10. Spend more time with family

I am sure no one is surprised that losing weight is the #1 Resolution.  This should at least be broken down into “Exercise” or “Eating Healthy” because you have to do one of these things to lose weight. Trying to completely and suddenly change both food intake and exercise is a very difficult undertaking, and as soon as you start to feel that you have “cheated” or stopped, you are less likely to continue following that goal.  These New Years Resolutions are a huge strain on willpower muscles that may be a bit out of shape.

Well then HOW do I change?

The resolutions above need to be broken down into actions that are easier to tackle. This article suggests that you should only pick one thing to focus on.  Or, as Rule #1 of The Ten Rules of Social Marketing suggests, choose ONE SPECIFIC behaviour to change.

It also suggests that you should try to focus on “habits” instead of “resolution” such as “Start substituting that 1 daily morning pastry for a banana” instead of “eat healthy”.  I love this idea, and think it is a great way to keep in mind Rule #8, setting SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time Bound.

Finally, you should make your goals PUBLIC and VISIBLE, which is Rule #4. Post it on facebook, twitter or just tell your friends and families about it so they can help you stay on track. You can also join support groups etc. that will help you achieve your goal.

Let’s Talk

Do social marketers have a better track record with New Years Resolutions? Post about your past experiences now, and let’s spend January talking about Resolutions, and how this knowledge can help us design awesome social marketing campaigns in 2015.

Oh, and just for fun….


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