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All the standard advice on keeping New Year’s resolutions is wrong, according to a University of Hertfordshire professor.
Adopting role models, removing the source of temptation and thinking about the consequences of failure all make things worse, says Professor Richard Wiseman.
In his study of 700 people, Wiseman asked participants to describe the techniques that they had employed when trying to stick to a resolution and their level of success. A measly 12 percent of participants achieved their resolution.
But, surprisingly, Wiseman found that those who used the techniques most commonly advocated by self-help experts were significantly more likely to fail.
What does work, apparently, is to break your resolution down into a series of manageable sub-steps, and give yourself a reward whenever you achieve one.
Also helpful is enlisting the help of friends and family, and giving yourself plenty of time to think about your resolution in advance.
Finally, says Wiseman, don’t beat yourself up if you fail. “Treat any failure as a temporary set-back rather than a reason to give up altogether,@ he says.
The prof has a quiz here, where you can check out whether you’re likely to succeed.