Polls / January 3, 2012

Did you keep last year's New Year resolution?

Of poll respondents who made a New Year resolution last year, more kept the resolution than did not keep it.

A nudge in the right direction
Going to the gym more frequently is often a popular New Year resolution. And while it’s easier said than done, tips and tricks really do seem to help people achieve the goal.
Take Gym-Pact, a behavioural economics gym plan in the United States that penalises users who do not attend their gym appointments. It taps into the idea of using incentives and penalties to achieve goals – an idea written about by Tim Harford and others. The eZonomics Ask Ian blogpost on plastic bag taxes gives another example of penalties changing the way we act.
Gym-Pact founders write an interview with Nudge blog that they saw 90% of users keep their gym appointments. So paying a price for not going to the gym seems to be effective in motivating people to go.

This year I will… “save more”, “lose weight”, “get a new job”
The incentives and penalties approach can be used for a wide range of resolutions – including weight loss, savings and other goals. Consider making a commitment contract with a friend or family member (perhaps try website stickK.com) to publicly set the goal and add motivation to achieve it.
Set concrete terms including a timeframe (such as saving €1200 in a year) and a price to be paid if it is not reached (such as taking out the rubbish for a month).
The ritual of setting resolutions at the start of the year can actually be a helpful reminder to set goals and regularly review progress towards them.

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eZonomics team
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