New year's resolutions are for kids and wishful thinkers, or at least according to a recent comment from one of our readers.
So what are the odds that you're going to break your new year's resolution? She which resolutions are most likely to be broken? We surveyed 14,458 people to give you the answers.
So if you're a ready to turn your life around in 2023 with the help of a new year's resolution, you might want to keep on reading!
The most often broken new year's resolutions
The top 5 most broken new year's resolutions are:
- Quitting drinking entirely.
- Doing more exercise or improving my fitness.
- Giving up smoking.
- Losing weight.
- Improving my diet.
We asked 14,458 respondents in a survey about their new year's resolutions:
- Did you ever make a new year’s resolution in your life?
- In the past, were you good at keeping your new year’s resolution?
- Which resolutions have you made (and kept!) in the past?
- Which resolutions did you break in the past?
We tracked all the new year’s resolutions and calculated which resolutions are most likely to be broken.
Some interesting observations from this data:
- “Quitting drinking entirely” is the most difficult-to-keep new year’s resolution.
- Nearly 60% of people that want to do more exercise or improve their fitness will break their new year’s resolution in a matter of weeks.
- In contrast to quitting drinking entirely, the majority of respondents who simply want to “cut down on drinking” will keep their resolutions.
- “Spending less time on social media” is amongst the more difficult-to-keep new year’s resolutions, confirming the tight grip that social media companies have on our lives.
Here's the rundown of the top 5 with specific observations for each new year's resolution.
5. Improving my diet
Failing to improve your diet is in the top 5 of most broken new year's resolutions. But when do you officially fail this new year's resolution? After having a slice of pizza on a cheat day?
Even though this resolution is a bit ambiguous, it's also one of the most difficult resolutions to keep.
Here's one of our readers that failed to keep her new year's resolution:
I've been addicted to sugar for as long as I can remember, and I really wanted to get rid of this constant craving. That's why I planned on going full keto in the new year.
I caved after exactly 4 days, when I went to a friend for his birthday.Elizabeth from Arizona, US, survey respondent
What about Google Search trends? How often do people search for diet tips on Google around new year's eve?
The popularity of the term "Diet" on Google enjoys a yearly rise during new year's eve. But this rise is quickly followed by a sharp decline, which continues to decline all the way through December.
Interestingly, the pandemic dip is clearly visible here. At the start of the pandemic, normal search behavior on Google disappeared and all people could think about was lockdowns, covid symptoms and stocking up on toilet paper.
As the dip shows, no one was interested in a new diet during the start of the pandemic.
4. Losing weight
Have you ever stepped on the scale after Christmas to be completely shocked at your weight gain?
You're not alone. Losing weight was the second-most-popular new year's resolution for 2022, only after "Saving more money" (based on this study report here).
Here are the Google Search trends for the term "Weight loss".
Again, you can see a yearly spike in popularity on the first day of the year. Similar to the term "Diet", the popularity declines throughout the year.
At the end of the year in December - and especially around Christmas - nobody seems to be interested in losing weight.
3. Giving up smoking
It's no surprise that giving up smoking makes the top 5.
Based on this well-known study, it takes an average of 2.1 tries to successfully quit smoking.
Some would say that waiting for the new year to quit something only decreases your odds, as it could be just a case of procrastination. So it can be argued that people who want to quit smoking as their new year's resolution are even more prone to fail.
Here's another one of our readers that broke his new year's resolution:
I was feeling really inspired when I claimed I was going to quit smoking in 2022. Maybe it was the alcohol talking. When I woke up on January 1st (well in the afternoon), the first thing I did was to go out for a cigarette...Fynn from Manchester, UK, survey respondent
Here are the Google Search trends for the term "Quit smoking".
Search popularity for "Quit smoking" terms decreases by almost 50% right after new year's eve. Moreso, it looks like the pandemic has made people less interested in quitting smoking.
Or maybe that's just a natural effect of the constantly decreasing population that smokes in the first place?
2. Doing more exercise or improving my fitness
When we published our initial survey results, we received a fun comment from one of our readers:
I've been going to the gym for years, and the new year's resolutioners never stick around.
Somebody who truly wants something doesn't wait for an excuse to start...An anonymous comment on our study
Are you one of these gym-goers and haven't yet gone again?
Google Search trends explains how the majority of new gym-goers in January slowly drop out during the first quarter. And by March, the interest in fitness has gone back to normal levels.
1. Quitting drinking entirely
If your resolution for 2023 is to “Quit drinking”, then you’re in for a challenge.
Lots of people don't just want to change their relationship with alcohol, they want to break up completely. But to turn this challenge into a new year's resolution seems to be a recipe for disaster. “Quitting drinking entirely” is the most difficult-to-keep new year’s resolution based on the data from our respondents.
Unfortunately, people are finding it easier to break their new year's resolution than to break their bottles of wine, beer and whiskey.
And similar to all the other new year's resolutions we covered, most of the people who want to quit drinking as the clock strikes midnight are losing interest in a matter of days.
If you're curious to learn more about our methodology, here's a link to our study appendix that explains it all (opens in a new window):
We also published another report based on the same data. Read our general report on the correlation between new year's resolutions and happiness here.
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If you still haven't broken your new year's resolutions by now, you're probably in doing better than the rest! We hope this study helps you keep your new year's resolutions for 2023, with extra motivation to not break them. And even if you do, don't sweat it because apparently, you are not alone.
What’s your main takeaway from today’s study? Do you have a question about something from our analysis? Leave a comment below to let us know.