What's your resolution for 2012?

Hannah ThompsonYouGovLabs and UK Public Opinion Website Editor
January 07, 2012, 10:30 AM GMT+0

27% Brits have made a New Year's resolution; 57% want to improve diet, 58% exercise more

Over a quarter of Britons have made a New Year's resolution for 2012, our poll has shown, one week in to January, when many people's resolve reportedly begins to flag.

While over half of those who have made a resolution would like to improve their diet and exercise regime, almost one in five wants to focus on their career, while slightly fewer say that cutting down on drinking, and spending time with their family, feature on their resolutions list.

  • 27% of British people say that they have made a resolution this year, while 73% haven't
  • Of those who have made a resolution, 58% want to improve their fitness or do more exercise
  • 57% aim to improve their diet
  • 17% want to pursue a career ambition
  • 16% say they would like to cut down on their drinking (and 7% want to give up smoking)
  • 14% envisage spending more time with their family
  • Other options included taking up a new hobby (13%), volunteering or doingcharity work (7%)
  • 3% said they wanted to spend less time on social networking sites (while a paltry 0% wanted to spend 'more time' on them)
  • Men were especially keen to cut down on their drinking (23% compared to 11% of women), while women were much more likely than men to want to take up a new hobby (18% compared to 5% of men)
  • 33% of those who had made a resolution said that they had chosen to do something that didn't feature on our list

Keeping your resolve

As the first week of the New Year comes to a close, people across the country are likely to be considering whether their resolutions made in good faith on the 1st will hold true for a longer time. Gyms and slimming clubs are reportedly busier than ever at this time of year as people try to work off the excess pounds from Christmas indulgences and embrace a streamlined new figure and healthier outlook for the year ahead.

And while our poll found that over a quarter had made resolutions ‒ spare a thought for those on the treadmill this weekend: a 2007 University of Bristol study found that over three quarters of those who make resolutions fail. Reasons behind this include making desired aims too vague (e.g. 'drink less' rather than 'drink only a small glass of wine a day') or similarly too draconian (e.g. 'I will go to the gym every day for two hours' rather than 'I will go three times a week for an hour').

When it comes to pursuing goals, there are almost as many suggestions as there are ambitions, but common helping hints include concentrating on changing only one thing at a time, getting support from friends and family around you, and keeping aims realistic. Indeed, Gretchin Rubin, author of bestselling book 'The Happiness Project', suggests that when making resolutions people should 'look for a specific, measurable action', and warns that 'the humble resolution you actually follow is more helpful than the ambitious resolution you abandon'.

See the survey results and full details here