We're a nation of resolution makers – 80 per cent of us say we have vowed to change the way we conduct our professional and personal lives at a new year but more than half of us fail to keep our pledges.
And it gets terribly repetitive: we keep making the same promises and breaking them every year. However well-intentioned you may be, your New Year resolutions have little chance of being fulfilled unless you set clear goals and focus on the rewards.
Think through exactly what you will do, where you will do it, and at what time. Vague plans fail. For example, instead of saying that you will go running two days a week, tell yourself that you will run on Tuesday and Thursdays at 6pm. The most popular resolution, from research we conducted with over 10,000 of our readers between October and December 2013, falls into the vague category, however. It is to enjoy life more. Did your New Year resolutions make our top ten list?
1. Enjoy life more. More and more people are resolving to reschedule business activities to make time for their kids, help their children set and achieve worthwhile goals and setting an hour a day for family, every day.
2. Tame the bulge. With many adult Britons now considered overweight or obese, more will opt for the stairs instead of the lift, fruit in place of chocolate and active rather than sedentary activities.
3. Fit in fitness. Regular exercise has been associated with more health benefits than anything else known to man – it keeps you healthy and makes you look and feel better.
4. Get out of debt. This could be the year for getting a handle on your finances – it's a promise that will repay itself many times over in the year ahead.
5. Get organised. Resolve this year to plan your days, reduce interruptions, clean off your desk, say no and make detailed lists.
7. Quit smoking. Becoming a non-smoker is probably one of the best decisions you can ever make and is a life changing as well as life saving decision.
8. Secure a better job. A new year provides a sense of getting a free make-over, so you can try again and get it right by finding a better job or simply take a new approach to the job you've already got.
9. Find a soul mate. Romance is alive and well as more and more people are looking for that special someone, their soul mate who lights their fire, the one whom they love unequivocally and who shares their worldview.
10. Avoid alcohol. While many people use the New Year as an incentive to finally stop drinking, most are not equipped to make such a drastic lifestyle change all at once – better to taper gradually, or even simply learn to drink in moderation.
William Montgomery, CEO of TEN LTD, said:
"Our survey shows that many of our readers continue to make New Year resolutions. There are genuine signs of increased optimism, and this is reflected in the top ten resolutions for 2014. However, to make them stick people need to create a plan, think year round, and not just new year, and remain flexible."