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  • Megan Yates

The Data Scientist’s Guide to New Year’s Resolutions

Each year, with the promise of a fresh start, we make resolutions to bring about positive change in our lives. Our choice of New Year’s Resolution is fairly predictable - we want to improve ourselves, get fit, be more organized, lose weight, quit smoking, make or save more money, spend more time with our families, travel more, drink less or make better decisions. Unfortunately most resolutions don’t last long. Let’s look at some statistics on New Year’s resolutions:

The top 5 resolutions for 2018 were:

1. Losing weight / healthier eating 2. Get more exercise 3. Save (more) money 4. Focus on self-care 5. Read more

However, the statistics show that:

/41% of people tend to make New Year’s Resolutions, while just 9.2% feel they were successful in achieving their resolutions

/37.8% of people in their twenties felt they achieved their resolution each year, compared to just 16.3% of people over fifty 

/72.8% of resolutions were maintained within the first week of the year. This figure declines over time, with just 44% of resolutions made at the beginning of the year being kept past the 6 month mark

The most common resolutions are also the ones most likely to fail and a 2016 study found that enjoyment was the biggest factor in determining whether resolutions would be successful or not.

Resolutions often fail because we set too many or they’re unrealistic to achieve - let’s apply these stats to help us set better resolutions:

/Outline a plan and set checkpoints throughout the year to keep track of your resolutions and as actor Cary Grant resolved, “Never to make a resolution which won’t be as important on ... the 10th of July as it is on the 1st of January”

/Don’t wait for 1 January - resolutions don’t need to be confined to the beginning of the year

/As you age, you should become increasingly watchful of keeping your resolutions

/Instead of regurgitating the same old resolutions (see list above), outline detailed plans that are specific to your goals

/Make sure your resolutions carry some type of reward

If all of this sounds tough, this last stat should help: people who set New Year’s resolutions are ten times more likely to achieve their goals than those who don’t! So don’t be too cynical about those generic New Year’s resolutions we all tend to set every year.

References: (US statistics)

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