Psych! How Behavioral Science Can Help You Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

man doing pullups

Of the 40% of people who take part in some sort of New Year goal planning, how many actually keep them? Some studies suggest a number as low as 8%–which we admit, seems a bit low. But that’s no excuse to skip out on your resolutions! At Studio SWEAT onDemand, we love that so many people are trying to be happier and healthier than ever – we just want to acknowledge that making consistent lifestyle changes may require a more tried-and-true strategy, so let’s turn those resolutions into solutions.

Could behavioral science help you keep a fitness resolution or two? We decided to study up on advice from psychologists and put together our favorite tips and mind tricks. So without further ado, here are 5 ways psychology can teach you how to keep your New Year’s Resolutions!

  1. It’s All About Those Habits

Keeping New Year’s Resolutions is not just about breaking bad habits: it’s about establishing good ones, too. In behavioral psychology, a habit is a way of thought or action that becomes automatic with practice. These automatic actions are called “conditioned” responses, and they’re usually triggered by a stimulus.

Want to turn your fitness resolution into a long-lasting, positive habit? You could connect your resolution to a previous habit you already have. Let’s say you always walk in through the door around 6pm and you immediately pour a glass of wine. You can really make a difference by connecting a new habit, like instead walking in and changing right into your workout clothes, making that the new coupled pairing habit.

  1. Little Challenges – Big Results

Ambition is great. But for those trying to keep their New Year fitness motivation… not so much. Establishing new habits is all about small actions performed with consistency and practice. That means if you gave yourself a big, sweeping resolution like “I’m going to finish a half marathon by the end of the year,” that’s going to be VERY difficult to achieve if you’re not used to it. You may have better luck breaking down that resolution into simpler, smaller sections. So, a promise of finishing a 13 mile run all at once could be divided into a fitness resolution like: “I’m going to go on a run 1 more day and 1 more mile than I usually do, every single week.” The easier it is to repeat your new habit, the more luck you’ll have repeating it!

group fitness class

 

  1. Discrete – Not Just an Island in Greece

On the same vein, you’ll have better success with your fitness motivation if you think of your resolutions as something discrete and quantifiable. Simply put, it’s all about the numbers.

If you gave yourself a big, sweeping resolution like: “I’m going to finish a 90 minute Spinning workout,” you may have better luck breaking down that resolution into simpler, smaller sections. For example, “I’m going to join Spin class videos online that are 10 minutes longer than I usually do, starting with just 30 minute classes, then each month adding slightly longer classes, like 35 minutes, then 40 minutes, then 45, etc.”

And then? Practice, practice, practice.

  1. It Takes a Village

Don’t go it alone! Like going to the movies or unpacking, some activities are just plain better when you’re in a group. A support system can help keep you in check, give you a sounding board when you’re struggling, and give you some much-needed affirmation when you’re doing well. And don’t think you can’t find that with at-home fitness solutions. You’ll be surprise at the support you can find in an online forum, like Studio SWEAT onDemand’s, which is called the Komrades group. Click HERE to check it out!

group fitness box jumps

 

  1. Rewrite Your Self-Story

In psychology, there’s a notion that every person tells a story about themselves and who they are. These “self-stories” have a powerful effect on our decisions, our actions, and yes, the goals we set for ourselves.

So, making important lifestyle changes isn’t just about changing your actions, it’s also about changing your mindset. Some psychologists recommend that you write out your “story,” and look out for narratives that don’t exactly match up with your New Year goal planning. For example, if you notice that you write about yourself as someone who hates routine and the mundane, try to “rewrite” your story so you’re someone who is more disciplined!


We understand more than anyone: long-term changes take real effort. But, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth trying! In fact, we’ve got the best tool for people that want to keep their New Year’s fitness motivation: Sign up for our 7-Day Free Trial for some incredible full-body workouts and the best Spinning class videos online. If you like it, sign up for our All Access Pass and get the ultimate fitness tool for the rest of the dang year!

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