GLEN OAKS, NY – Every Jan. 1, millions of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, but only about 8 percent successfully achieve their goals, according to researchers at the University of Scranton.
So why do so many resolutions fail?
“Why do even 8 percent succeed?,” said Elihu Turkel, PsyD, director of Psychological Training and associate director of Psychological Services at Zucker Hillside Hospital and Long Island Jewish Medical Center. “When you think about it, there’s so much going against change that it’s surprising that anybody succeeds and manages to achieve what they’re trying to do.”
According to Dr. Turkel, some of the obstacles standing in the way of our resolutions include:
- Magical thinking that because the calendar year’s changing we’re changing too. This may happen, but you don’t arbitrarily wake up on Jan. 1 with superpowers to make those changes.
- Defaulting to failure mode when setbacks happen
- Unrealistic goals (too big of a change or too short of a timeframe in which to achieve them)
But, just because a mere 8 percent of us hit our goals shouldn’t discourage people from making resolutions, said Dr. Turkel.
“Research has also shown that people who do make explicit goals and commit themselves are 10 times more likely to succeed than people who don’t even bother,” said Dr. Turkel. “So even though people tend to make resolutions on a cyclical basis and they may make the same resolutions for a year or two years, it’s still very useful. Change is a process.”