This Is the Date When Most People Ditch Their New Year's Resolutions

And how the occasional slip-up can actually help you keep yours

exercise is hard

It's no secret that New Year's resolutions are the very definition of best-laid plans. Most of us ring in the new year with ambitious intentions to lose weight, exercise more, and quit smoking, knowing fully well that we'll probably be back to our old ways by February.

But, according to a new study, your freshly-minted goals are likely to fall apart even sooner than that. Strava, a social network for athletes, analyzed more than 31.5 million online activities last year and found that January 12th is the fateful day when most of our annual commitments start to crumble.

"Sticking to resolutions is hard and we all know there's a lot of talk and pressure in January about getting fitter and being healthier," Gareth Mills from Strava told The Independent. "A key factor in success is motivation and analyzing millions of activity uploads, we've been able to pinpoint the day your motivation is most likely to waver."

Granted, the study could only draw data from its own user base, so it's a little skewed, but it sounds about right. In fact, a previous study by University of Scranton psychology professor John C. Norcross found that 30 percent of us don't even last a full week—and only 8 percent make it past the first six weeks.

But don't let that discourage you! The good news is that he also found that people who make New Years resolutions are still 10 times more likely to keep them as people who don't. And he has some great advice, based on his research, on how to be one of the few people who actually make it.

First off, set a concrete goal that you believe you can truly achieve. "It all begins… by making realistic, attainable goals," Norcross told NPR. "We say, if you can't measure it, it's not a very good resolution because vague goals beget vague resolutions." So tell yourself you'll lose 10 pounds instead of, say, 50, or that you'll go to the gym three days a week instead of shooting for 7.

Secondly, don't get too dismayed by the occasional slip-up. One of Norcross's studies found that 53 percent of the successful group experienced at least one slip, and the average number of slips was 14 over the course of 2 years. But what distinguished the people who managed to maintain their resolutions from the ones that didn't was that they plowed on.

Norcross also said that people are more likely to keep their resolutions if the gratification is immediate rather than delayed, so feel free to reward yourself with something for achieving your goal on a day-to-day basis to keep the motivation momentum.

It's also important to change your surroundings. "Chances are, something triggered your resolution lapse, whether it was a person, place or bad habit. Avoiding those triggers, and replacing them with people, places and things that will help you stick to your goal is crucial."

Finally, the buddy system really does work. "Having a resolution buddy doesn't make much of a difference right away, but social support starts to make a big impact around February, or about a month in," he said. And if you're looking for some commitments you'll be able to nail through all of 2019, check out these 30 New Year's Resolutions You'll Actually Stick to This Year.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more
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