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The Theory of New Year’s Resolutions

By: NCSF  on:  Dec 30 2013
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New Year resolutions in theory are about a behavior change. It may be towards a change in social, emotional, or physical actions, but the latter seems to always get the most attention. Gaining a better understanding of what people are thinking in the pre-action phase leading to January 1st, may help provide insight as to (personal) motivational factors and key drivers to decisions by consumers. Participants from Lifetime Fitness programs were surveyed and over 1,400 individual respondents provided data on resolutions drivers and personal goals in support of the January 1, Commitment Day. Commitment Day is a broad social movement with a charge of establishing a commitment to healthy eating, exercise, family, respect, giving and a healthy planet. The Jan 1, 2014 event encompasses 5K fun walk/run events in 34 cities across the country, with tens of thousands of individuals participating. Interestingly, the data found that the majority of respondents (75%) placed their overall fitness as the priority in the New Year; twelve percent identified their work or career as the main emphasis of their behavior change, while ten percent placed family as the priority for 2014.

A common theme among New Year resolutions is sadly, failure. While improving one’s health is a grand goal it does not occur in response to an acute change in one’s actions. Health and fitness are multifactoral and therefore require modifications in several areas. Simply buying a gym membership (again this year) is not enough. A person must commit to daily lifestyle changes, every day and stay focused enough to continue to emphasize those actions every week, every month, every year. Traditionally there are three waves of fallout, and the generally center around 6 week cycles. The study found that the primary motivators for committing to a healthy, active lifestyle varied but most respondents identified themselves as the primary reason driving the goal. According to the survey 86% of respondents cited “seeing results” or “improving my health and decreasing existing health risks” as their primary motivator. Only eleven percent noted “being there for my family,” with one percent citing financial incentives such as lower insurance costs as their motivator. Of further interest 59% of respondents said they would give up social media, 22% would not use make-up, and 6% would drop their cell phones in exchange for their ideal weight.

This information suggests different things are held in different regard to people. It is somewhat fascinating that the vast majority of people find their cell phone more important than maintaining an ideal weight. Just twenty five years ago no one really used cell phones and social media did not exist. Interesting how people change. And while it is easy to snub one’s need to be socially connected over healthy exchanges, it is much more useful to identify what makes people tick (right now) and use those motivators to promote additional beneficial change.

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