Today is Ditch Your Resolutions Day

Posted at 2:00 PM, Jan 16, 2015
and last updated 2015-01-17 10:28:45-05

Those who keep their New Year's resolutions past Saturday may be in the minority.

Some research suggests many people throw in the towel on resolutions after a couple of weeks, though others believe it's around the middle of February when the majority give up. Whatever the case, our goals tend to fail well before spring.

It's easy to make the resolution to get fit when during the last week of December and first week of January weight loss and supplement companies fill email inboxes and flood TV commercial space with advertisements. But making it easy to give up are places such as Marble Slab Creamery and Maggie Moo's, which have teamed up to offer two-for-one ice cream specials in honor of "National Ditch Your Resolutions Day" on Saturday.

According to the U.S. government, the most popular resolutions Americans make include losing weight, quitting smoking, volunteering and finding better jobs. (The feds even offer links to online support for keeping resolutions.)

Fulfilling a resolution is not impossible — far from it, said John C. Norcross, the author of acclaimed self-help book “Changeology.”

Norcross has written more than 300 publications and studied New Year’s resolutions for decades.

“People are far more successful at New Year’s resolutions than anyone would predict,” Norcross said when he spoke with the Scripps National Desk in December. “There’s a lot of pessimistic nonsense out there.”

Norcross said 40 percent of New Year’s resolvers succeed.

“This is huge,” he said. “This is the biggest single opportunity to improve your life on the year. I certainly understand people dismiss it.”

But making improvements through New Year’s resolutions takes work, he said. In “Changeology”, Norcross writes about five stages for successful change.

The steps include:

Psych: Knowing where you want to do
Prep: Setting actual goals
Perspire: Modifying behavior and environment
Persevere: Manage slips by forgiving yourself but moving on quickly
Persist: Maintain the change with the help of constant adjustment and attention
Norcross said willpower alone more often than not will not satiate a resolution.

“Willpower is a powerful too, but people who rely on it too much fail at a higher rate,” he said.

For the change to truly take hold, Norcross said people need to follow through for 90 days.

“My publisher and everyone else tried to convince me to go shorter, but science is science,” he said. “It’s not a dash. It’s a marathon.”