Pay Attention: Quitter's Day is Coming!

What day did you realise your resolutions were never going to happen?

You'd think that having made our New Year's resolutions less than a month ago we should at least be able to make it through January. As the Dutch say: Unfortunately Peanut butter (Helaas Pindakaas). We seem to fail before January is even over!




New Year's resolutions are the banes of most people's lives. You come up with them quite easily, but to stick with them is hard. I know it's hard from personal experience, but also because I have studied goal setting and goal achieving as a behavioural scientist. I'm still quite optimistic that with nudging, commitment devices and are behavioural insight driven tools, we can help you (and ourselves) to achieve our goals. Until I read an article that said there was even a specific date on which most people quit.

It's on Sunday, the 19th of January.

We are only 19 days in when we throw in the towel. That's utterly pathetic!

Although it has to be mentioned, that is still better than last year (2019), we the "Quitter's Day" was on Saturday the 12th. Just 12 days in. Shameful.



The research backing this was done by Strava, which is a social network for athletes. So, keep in mind that most of the resolutions are likely to be exercise focused, by people who already tend to be quite disciplined. So how did they come up with this date? Strava claims it was able to pinpoint the date dubbed “Quitter’s Day” after analysing more than 822 million online global activities from 2019 (by analysing this data in 2018 they found the date of Saturday, January 12, 2019).

As I mentioned, Strava if for athletes, and their goals are largely exercise based. So in their latest report, they suggest that one way of keeping resolutions afloat is to “set a goal”, suggesting if you aim for three activities a week, instead of just two, you’re more likely to be consistent. However, this is not really in line with what we know from Behavioural Science. If setting yourself a goal for three activities per week, yet doing two already seems like a mountain to be climbed, you are going to fail. You are going to fail even worse if you don't even have the time to commit to these activities. Your goal does have to be realistic! And this might have contributed to the following finding: In a study conducted by the University of Scranton, just 8 per cent of people achieved their New Year’s goals, while about 80 per cent failed to keep their New Year’s resolutions. The article dives into that, as well intended these resolutions are, you need to change your mind before you change your life. And that is a pretty good point. You can't just say to yourself that you want to be skinnier and go to the gym. That's not sustainable in the long-term. Why not? Because to get skinnier, you'll need to commit to quite a hefty change in exercise, diet and lifestyle, before you even start to see results. And that's why people don't make it till the end (although this article argues that most people have quit halfway through February).




Both articles argue this point: your goals need to be realistic, and they need to be driven by YOU. You have to be the one both able and willing to change, and to put in the hard work. If this is you, but you're still scared you might f*-up, these articles are for you:

- How to Set Up a Successful Goal

- Nudging Yourself to Success - How to Prepare for the New Year - Why it's sometimes good to give into Small Indulgences - A theoretical note on Behavioural Change Models

And because it's a personal finance blog after all: - Six Steps to Make You Spend Less




Let's beat Quitter's Day together!

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