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According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology and the University of Scranton, the top 5 resolutions made on January 1, 2012 were:

1. Losing weight

2. Getting organized

3. Spending less and saving more

4. Enjoying life to the fullest

5. Staying fit and healthy 

With an overwhelming 38,200,000 Google hits for “Top New Year’s resolutions for 2013,”it seems Americans still want the same things in the coming year – they just don’t quite know how to achieve them – which explains why there are also 21,800,000 hits for “Making New Year’s resolutions stick”?

But why?  What’s so hard about making a resolution and seeing it through?

Research shows that 45% of Americans regularly make a resolution, while 17% will make one once in a while.  Of this population, only 8% of people are successful in achieving their goal, leaving 90% who just don’t follow through.

A search on Google turns up the following “tips” to make your New Year’s fitness resolutions stick:

• Ask for support; have an accountability buddy

• Make a plan, be specific, start small and track of your progress

• Change one behavior at a time

• Get out of your own way by throwing out the junk food

• Don’t beat yourself up over inevitable relapses and setbacks; prepare for them

• Make incremental goals

• Put it in writing or talk about it

The fact is, sticking to a resolution is hard. That’s why there are 21,800,000 hits on Google dolling out advice on how to do it.  But if it were just as easy as stating your goals, making a plan and asking for help, we’d all be thinner, more organized, have more in our bank accounts, enjoy life more and be fitter and healthier.  And the “Top New Year’s resolutions” each year would be different.

So maybe it’s not the advice. Maybe it’s us humans …

(note of interest: there are 835,000 Google hits on “why New Year’s resolutions fail.”)

Let’s face it, humans are imperfect and are filled with many reasons why we don’t follow what seems like perfectly good advice. 

So here’s a suggestion, DO NOT MAKE A NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION. At least not until February 14, 2013.

Then make just one resolution to yourself:

“This year, I will love myself, find the best in myself, focus on what I can do and what I am achieving, and be my biggest cheerleader. My mind will be focused on asking myself what can go right for me regardless of what’s in front of me.”

It’s the one resolution you need for all others to have any chance for success—high self-regard, high self-worth, high self-efficacy.


So, there you have it. While everyone else’s resolutions will have likely faded by February 14, 2013, you will just be moving into high gear, leaving everyone wondering what your secret is.


Follow Dr. Mantell on Twitter @FitnessPsych

Michael R. Mantell, Ph.D., earned his doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania after completing his M.S. degree in clinical psychology at Hahnemnann Medical College where he wrote his thesis on the psychological aspects of obesity. He coaches world-class athletes and fitness enthusaists for performance enhancement. He is Senior Consultant for Behavioral Sciences for ACE, on the faculty of the Equinox Fitness Training Institute, a national Community Ambassador for Experience Life Magazine’s health initiative and for FitFluentials, appears weekly on San Diego’s CW channel 6, is a consultant to Les Mills International, writes for IHRSA, is a member of the Sports Medicine Team at the Sporting Club of San Diego and the La Jolla Sports Club specializing in fitness psychology, writes the “San Diego Fitness Psychology” column and “San Diego Life Coach Examiner.” He is also a writer and consultant to the Total Gym company. Dr. Mantell has written two best-selling books and appears regularly on radio and TV.


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