New Year’s resolutions are often viewed as a joke in the health and fitness industry, with people giving up after a few weeks. However, research shows that the “fresh start effect” of a new year or other meaningful date can be helpful for clients to restart and renew their fitness and lifestyle goals. This belief disruptor allows clients to have increased motivation and self-efficacy, leading to behavior change.
The statistic that 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail is outdated and based on a small sample size from nearly 30 years ago. Recent studies have suggested that resolutions can be effective in habit change, with one study reporting that at six months, 46 percent of people who set resolutions were continuously successful compared to 4 percent of those who did not.
There are five simple methods that health and fitness professionals can use with their clients to make better New Year’s resolutions. One method is to pick a temporal landmark, such as a birthday or special occasion, to give clients a clearly defined start date and separate their old self from their new self. Doing a “30-day trial” of a new habit can give clients a fresh start and help them see how the change works for them.
Other methods include building habits around micro-resolutions that are achievable, setting process goals instead of outcome goals, and focusing on the present moment instead of dwelling on the past. With these simple methods, health and fitness professionals can help their clients make sustainable changes and achieve their goals.