538 knows you better than you know yourself.
How Fast You’ll Abandon New Year’s Resolutions
By Mona Chalabi
"Plenty of us will start the year with good intentions. When a Marist Poll asked 1,140 U.S. adults in December whether they would be making a resolution for 2015, 44 percent said they were either very or somewhat likely to do so. But nearly half of them are likely to fail in sticking to their plans.
John Norcross, a professor of psychology at the University of Scranton, has conducted studies into “resolvers” (those of you who have made a statement about what you intend to do differently in the new year) and “nonresolvers” (those of you who haven’t). In a 2002 study, Norcross and his colleagues contacted resolvers every couple of weeks for six months to check in on how they were doing. By the end of June, only 46 percent were on course with their New Year’s resolutions.
It seems crazy to me to stick a simple percentage on objectives that are so affected by circumstances and ambition at the outset. Let’s say that I vowed on Jan. 1, 1995, to stop stealing my sister’s homework and grading it myself. My chances of success were far higher than if I were to promise myself that I would master Mandarin that year (not least because by February my sister might have learned to better hide her stuff). . . ."