Of the millions of Brits that made a New Year’s Resolution in 2016, a staggering 92% failed before January was done. Perhaps even more surprisingly, 10% denied ever making a New Year’s Resolution in the first place!
Each year we all make and break New Year’s Resolutions, so we weren’t that shocked by these stats at Darth HQ. Indeed, it was Darth’s failure to give up his 3 x morning custard slices that drove him to take up running in the first place (he’ll deny it if you ask him).
To avoid failure with our fitness resolutions in 2017, we have looked into the psychology behind successful and unsuccessful New Year’s Resolutions. And in doing so we discovered a couple of simple but stunningly effective lessons. We thought we’d share these below.
Lesson 1: It’s all about developing habits (good ones):
If there’s one thing that stands out from our reading, it’s that humans are very good at programming their brains into doing activities, to the point that they are second nature. Most of us have managed this at some point, with daily habits like brushing our teeth or driving the right route to work (two things we don’t even think about) or bad habits such as biting our nails and binging on custard slices.
But at some point, each of these now ‘instinctive’ activities were new behaviours. They became habits because they each have three key components – a trigger, a routine (the habit itself) and a reward. The image below shows how this has manifested around Darth’s custard slice habit.
Every habit we have is made up of these three stages. And the good news is that, by building a trigger, routine and reward around New Year’s Resolutions they can become second nature too. So if, for example, your resolution is to take up running (the routine), we’d recommend a regular training slot at the same time of day (the trigger). The reward will be the endorphins that exercise produces. And if you run in a group (see lesson 2 below), then it will be the feeling of camaraderie.
Lesson 2: Success is much more likely in a group: There’s a load of science out there that suggests we are far more likely to succeed with our goals when we practice them with other like-minded people. It’s one of the reasons self-help groups work so well and I’m sure most of us have had pre-race nerves evaporate when lining up next to others in the same boat. Certainly people’s Darth Mannion sea-dip jitters tend to disappear when the Peloton enters en-masse.
The power of the group harks back to our evolutionary tribal roots, but we won’t bore you with the theory. The key point is that a New Year’s Resolution of getting into shape will have a much better chance of success if it’s done with others (and in a regular slot).
So where do we come in? Well, if you live in and around Swansea, joining our running club – Darth Coastal Runners – provides all of the habit-forming raw materials mentioned above. Our Saturday morning running slots and twice-weekly training sessions (for all levels) are ready-made triggers and routines. The endorphins, sense of camaraderie, personal fitness gains and stunning natural beauty of the coast provide all sorts of rewards. And obviously, you’ll be around many like-minded people.
You don’t have to take our word for it. Take a peek at our Facebook group (Darth Coastal Runners Community) for a taste of what goes on or pop along on a Saturday to see for yourself. Or just read this amazing testimonial from one of our runners.
You can join DCR for around £40 a year, which provides you with free access to all sessions, insurance through Welsh Athletics and a range of other perks. Check out our website here for more info!
Anyway that’s all for now. Here’s to a fit and healthy 2017. Happy New Year from everyone at DCR!