Nearly 40% of adults had a new year's resolution going into 2022 — and by February about 36% of those people had already given up. Fewer than one in 10 people are able to maintain their resolution the whole year, and the people who fall off the wagon often blame it on a lack of time, resources or motivation.
The most popular new year's resolutions revolve around improved health. A survey from Statista showed more exercise, a healthier diet and losing weight were the top three resolutions heading into 2022. About 12% of gym memberships are purchased in January, and about 80% of those members will leave within six months.
So how does one keep the promises we make to ourselves? One personal trainer recommends setting manageable goals people can meet currently, rather than their ideal.
"People start off and they say they're going to work out five days a week. You're not going to, I mean, you will for a few days. But if you try to make too many changes, you're going to fail miserably," said John Peters of JP Fitness. "You want to start very small with manageable goals, like one 30-minute workout a week, or maybe your goal is to go to the gym, and not have any goal to exercise or anything, just go to the gym."
Peters has been a personal trainer for about five years, and his gym specializes in individualized training. He says people are more likely to stick to their resolutions if there's a group supporting it.
"I think having friend, that support in itself, and then having a gym that you like, with people you like will help. Having a partner that's supportive, of course. And then a lot of people love group classes. So that would help a lot," Peters said.
Peters said he's biased, but a personal trainer could also fill that role with the addition of their knowledge on exercise. Personal trainers can also help with diet to complement the effort people put in at the gym.
"They can fill you in on what to do. I would eliminate obvious things that aren't helping you, like, taking sugar out of your house and trying not to surround yourself with foods that aren't good for you," Peters said.
Improved health is the most common goal for the new year, but close behind it is improved financial literacy. Saving more, spending less and investing are all popular goals for people entering the new year.
"Looking at the year ahead, Americans are clearly prioritizing their savings, and we're seeing this regardless of their age and income bracket. If you're able to, putting money aside early and often is an important element of long-term financial wellness, and we encourage those who are doing so to keep it up," wrote Ravi Kumar, head of CIT's direct bank.
Expert tips for sticking with financial goals are similar to those found in health. Pick something manageable, know what you're capable of and have a solid reason for pursuing the goal. Vice President of Consumer Insights at Allianz Life, Kelly LaVigne, told Yahoo it's best to be specific when setting goals.
"That way, you can figure out the smaller incremental goals to set to help you get there. Otherwise, you're working toward this far-off goal without feeling like you're really making any progress. That's discouraging," she told Yahoo.
Nonspecific goals like "save more money" isn't a clear enough benchmark to track success, she said. Instead seek to pay off a higher percent of debt, make a habit of tracking expenses or increase contributions to a retirement plan.
So if you have a new year's resolution, keep it simple, keep it manageable and keep it up. With hard work you can be one of the few that sees it through to 2024.