A New Year, A New You? Well….

A new year? A new you? Well, probably not, but maybe!

Research shows that by February most people have reverted to their previous year’s behaviour and resolutions are long forgotten, if not the lingering feeling of defeat. Although one study showed that 19% of resolution-makers were successful in sticking to their resolution after 2 years.

So what makes some of us successful while others fail? It has to do with:


The first stage in changing a bad habit to a good one is readiness. There is no point putting a resolution on your list if you aren’t ready to tackle it. This is why I ask my clients to fill out a Readiness for Change Questionnaire so that I can ascertain their level of commitment and motivation. Behavioural change does not happen in a day. Psychologist outline between 3-6 discrete stages of change. The simplified version is:

  • pre-contemplation
  • contemplation
  • action

You need to be at the action stage in order to write that resolution down for 2017.

Ask yourself: is this goal truly important to me? You can’t put a resolution on your list because your spouse, mother, children, co-workers want you to do it. It has to resonate with you. Motivation is key and you must value the outcome that you are seeking in order to effectively execute the change. Ask yourself, “on a scale of 1-10 how motivated am I to follow through with this resolution?” Write down the number.

Next, you need to have sufficient self-efficacy to follow through with your resolution. Self-efficacy is simply a belief in yourself that you can execute a task, or simply put “I got this”. In order for you to feel confident about your ability to follow-through, ensure the resolution is not too large or cumbersome. It should be realistic and achievable. Ask yourself, “on a scale of 1-10 how confident am I that I can execute this change in behaviour successfully.”

Your motivation and self-efficacy scores should both be at 7 or higher in order for you to have a realistic chance of following through with your resolution.

Finally, notice I am using resolution in the singular, focus on one behavioural change at a time. A list of 5 resolutions is unlikely to be attainable. Once you have changed behaviour for a number of months so that an old habit has become a new healthy habit, then you can consider resolution number 2 and go through the same steps.

Good luck, Happy New Year and don’t forget:

You got this!. Believe in yourself.


Bandura, A., & Locke, E.A. (2003). Negative self-efficacy and goals revisited. Journal of Applied Psychology, 88, 87-99.

Norcross, J.C., Mrykalo, M.S., & Blagys, M.D. (2002). Auld lang syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58(4), 397-405.

Norcross, J.C., Ratzin, A.C., & Payne, D. (1989). Ringing in the new year: The change processes and reported outcomes of resolutions. Addictive Behaviors, 14(2), 205-212.

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