In January, many will set a goal for the New Year that for most will be hard to keep. By February, resolutions to eat better and exercise more will be forgotten about at best, abandoned at worst. How can people stick to their resolutions? Stanford scholars from across the social sciences, science and medicine are working together to better understand what works – and what doesn’t work – when people want to make a change in their lives.
Stanford researchers have studied what can cause people to abandon their goal and how they can stay motivated. They have also explored what leads to successful health outcomes: Is a low-carb diet better than a low-fat one? According to one study, it’s neither. Or how accurate are fitness trackers? When counting calories burned, researchers found not very. Is exercise or diet better for weight loss? One health researcher found that for best results, it may be useful to do both at the same time.
Here is insight – and maybe a little inspiration – for how to accomplish any goal, plus specific tips on achieving some of the most common resolutions.
How to accomplish a goal
There are plenty of tips out there about how to achieve a goal: Take small steps. Don’t compare yourself to others. Set specific targets. Either you have it or you don’t.
But these pieces of well-intended advice might not be good advice. It might even lead people to give up their pursuit, according to Stanford research:
Resolution: Eat healthier; lose weight
From the fields of medicine and the social sciences, Stanford researchers have examined the effects of nutrition, food choices and diet on health outcomes. Here are some of their discoveries on eating healthy and losing weight:
Stanford doctoral candidate Adrienne Rose Johnson says diet books idealize lifestyles of the past in ways that contribute to global health problems.
Resolution: Exercise more
Stanford scholars have explored a variety of ways to effectively integrate physical activity into one’s life. From small to big lifestyle changes, here are some things Stanford researchers have learned about making an exercise routine work:
Resolution: Increase job satisfaction, in oneself and others
Stanford Graduate School of Business scholars have produced a wealth of information about work and careers. From topics such as finding career satisfaction to getting the best out of oneself, here is some insight from professors in the fields of management and organizational behavior:
Resolution: Save money
Saving money early is critical to ensuring financial security later in life, but for some, managing finances can feel overwhelming and complicated, according to Stanford research. What do informed financial decisions look like? How can savings be encouraged, and what percentage of one’s annual income does one need to save to guarantee security later in life? This is what Stanford scholars have found:
Resolution: Practice self-care; find balance
Stanford scholars from the fields of business to medicine have examined various ways – big and small – to incorporate mindfulness, self-care and balance into hectic schedules and everyday life. Here are some of their findings on topics like how to unplug from technology, achieve work/life balance and stop sweating everyday aggravations: