Life Hacks

Trying ‘too hard’ can sabotage the success of a good New Year resolution.

Marg Hegarty, a behaviour change spokeswoman for Queensland’s free healthy lifestyle program, My health for life, said New Year resolutions often fail because people are overly ambitious.

“New Year is ingrained in our psyche as representing a new start, so many people approach their resolutions with an all or nothing attitude,’’ she said.

“They rush into them in a burst of energy but without much thought and then it all fizzles.

“But if you are trying to change behaviours around your health and fitness, for example, failed attempts can actually impact negatively on your overall motivation and make future attempts at behaviour change seem even harder.

“It has been suggested 15 per cent of Australians abandon their New Year resolutions within the first three months, and that the percentage increases over time. Yet, I wonder if the outcome would be different if people approached their resolutions with a different mind-set?’’

To maximise success, Marg suggests these handy tips:

  • Change the language – if “New Year resolutions’’ has negative or trivial connotations, think in terms of “goals’’. Goals sounds more positive and stronger as it signifies a desire for achievement.
  • Make goals specific – think carefully about what you want to achieve, write them down and do not forget to include the what, when and how to keep yourself accountable. Keep a record somewhere safe so you can revisit them often and monitor progress – an important strategy to keep goals top of mind.
  • Keep it simple – break goals into bite-size, achievable steps, such as going for a 15 minute walk every day, then increasing it another 10 minutes every month.
  • Don’t underestimate the power of support – My health for life is a free, State Government-funded program which provides six months of support to Queenslanders wanting to improve their health and minimise their risk factors for type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke. (Visit to see if the program is right for you).
  • Make it enjoyable – explore ways to make your goals fun or you will forget about them until the following year!

“New year resolutions can often be dismissed as trivial things but they can be also be powerful and useful if approached in the right way,’’ Marg said.

“There has been plenty of research to show that improved health is one of the most common resolutions people make, so good health is obviously important to many people.

“My advice is not to wait for motivation to strike because motivation is something you make happen for yourself.

“However, we know from working with so many Queenslanders on the My health for life program that people often look for a starting point to begin a weight loss journey, or to be more active or to eat better.

“If a new year provides the impetus to committing to new, healthier habits, then that has to be a good thing.’’ she said.

My health for life is a free $27 million State Government funded program developed and delivered by the Healthier Queensland Alliance for Queenslanders at high risk of developing chronic disease. The program is available in small group sessions in many local communities or is accessible by way of structured phone coaching to anywhere in Queensland.

Source: NQPHN Newsletter Issue 51