The curse of the New Year’s resolution – more than half of Brits admit to failure before they even start

30 December 2016
  • The top 2017 New Year’s health resolution is to lose weightt
  • Over half of people surveyed say that setting smaller, more achievable goals will help them stick to their New Year’s resolution
  • More than a third say support from a group or friend will help them keep to their goals
  • Dr Steven Luttrell, Interim Director for Bupa Cromwell Hospital, gives his tips on making resolutions stick
A photo of people gathered round a table planning an event
With 2017 just around the corner, many of us are thinking about our New Year’s resolutions. It’s no surprise that the top health resolution for 2017 is to lose weight, followed by exercising more and being less stressed. 

However in a poll of 2,000 Brits, published today, Bupa found that of the people who said they would be setting a New Year’s resolution, half were not confident they would stick to it. 

In a bid to counter this trend, 52% said that setting small, more achievable goals will help them stick to their New Year’s resolution. Around one in five people also admitted to setting overly ambitious, potentially unsustainable goals.

More women (58%) than men (45%) say setting smaller and realistic goals will help them keep their New Year’s resolutions, while more men (26%) than women (21%) say technology is the key to helping them keep their goals on track.

Commenting on the survey, Dr Steven Luttrell, Interim Director for Bupa Cromwell Hospital, said: “Many of us set ambitious targets at the end of the year but fail to stick to them when the regular routine kicks back in after Christmas break. Establishing new routines is always a challenge, but taking small steps will help you on your way. You don’t need to make drastic changes to achieve your New Year’s resolution.”

He added: “It is no surprise losing weight tops the New Year ambitions for Brits, but we need to be realistic in how much you want to lose – everyone is different and it may take time to see the results.”

Steven recommends the following tips to building will power and sticking to New Year resolutions:

1. Start small: Habits are challenging to engrain into everyday life; set smaller, more realistic goals and gradually build on them. If you want to improve your fitness, start with easier exercises and work your way up from there.

2. Plan: Routine is the key to sticking to a goal. When we’re not in a routine, we have to make decisions quickly, which opens us up to weaknesses and temptation.  If your goal is to lose weight or eat healthier, plan your meals for the week ahead, write a shopping list and don’t go shopping when you’re hungry! There are lots of health apps which can help you plan and track your goals. The Bupa Boost app focuses on four key areas: nutrition, fitness, mindfulness and relaxation, and allows you to compete with your friends or colleagues to keep you motivated.   

3. Prompts and reminders: Leave prompts that will remind you of your goals. If your New Year’s resolution is to walk more, leave your running shoes somewhere you’ll see them, like the front door or in the kitchen. Setting yourself reminders on your mobile phone or using apps that send you notifications will encourage you to stick to your goals.  

4. Change your environment: Acknowledge your weaknesses and the things in your life that might have stopped you from reaching your resolution. For example, if you want to eat less, use a smaller plate, if you want to cut back on snacking, don’t put snacks near you and if it’s the smell of a bakery on the way which triggers you to relapse, then think about taking a different route home.

5. Address emotional stresses: One of the reasons we adopt unhealthy habits is to help us cope with other issues in our life. Look to see how you can address these underlying areas. This will help build your mental strength to take on change. 

6. Social Support: Friends and family are some of the biggest influencers in our lives; sharing your goals with them can often help. They will also often support you to keep on track and congratulate you on success which is also an important part of achieving your goals.

Notes to editor

[1] 26% of people said losing weight was a likely goal for 2017, followed by 20% who would like to exercise more and 11% said they would like to be less stressed. Others mentioned in the poll include 7% of people who would like to quit smoking, 6% would like to sleep more and 4% would like to change their drinking habits.


About Bupa

Bupa's purpose is helping people live longer, healthier, happier lives.

With no shareholders, our customers are our focus. We reinvest profits into providing more and better healthcare for the benefit of current and future customers.

We have 15.5 million health insurance customers, provide healthcare to around 14.5 million people in our clinics and hospitals, and look after over 23,300 aged care residents.

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Health insurance is around 70% of our business. In a number of countries, we also run clinics, dental centres, hospitals and care homes and villages.

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