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Most New Year's resolutions fail.
So in this video I want to talk about the science of why they fail
and how to avoid that so your New Year's resolutions actually succeed
and I want to tell you about three of my New Year's resolutions for 2020.
The first one is to stop going to news websites
I find I kill a ton of time by doing that
Now don't get me wrong, I do think it's important to know what's going on in the world,
but I just don't think following the day-to-day developments of the news cycle is the way to do that
so instead I am going to get one newspaper delivered to my house every week
and that is how I am gonna stay informed
Research has shown it is more effective to make resolutions at new years than at any other time of the year.
In fact, one study found that people who made resolutions on January 1st
were 10 times as likely to stick with them 6 months later than people who made their resolutions at other times of the year
And January 1st 2020 is the first day of a new decade
so it may be even better.
Side note: those of you who want to argue that the first day of the decade is actually January 1st 2021,
while you may technically be correct because there was no year 0,
we went straight from 1 BC to 1 AD
for all intents and purposes psychologically this January 1st is the first day of the 2020s
and that is what matters.
So the technicalities I think, are unimportant. Abd this argument should be put to bed
The 2020s start on Jan 1
But now the bad news: even a resolution made at New Year's will most likely fail
which is why gyms are packed in January, but they start to clear out by March
what research has found that only around 8% of people can stick with their resolutions through the end of the year
So why is this? And, how do we avoid that trap?
I think it all starts with a misconception
Oh no, oh no, oh no, oooooh no.
Foooget. *sigh*
Well this was going part of the video where I ran on the treadmill but the treadmill's just broken
so I think the misconception is, that people think that in order to make big changes in their lives
that they have to make some sort of really big effort
I mean let's say your goal was to run a marathon
you might plan on running ten kilometers three times a week
that seems kind of proportionate to the end goal
and you might be excited and really motivated to do it for the first few weeks
but at some point that motivation is gonna lag
and running 10k is gonna seem too hard
and so you're gonna sort of fall back into old habits
the misconception is thinking you need to go big,
and so being over ambitious with your goals and then not being able to commit and stick to them
I'm gonna fix this.
The truth is you're much better off if you pick small targets that you can hit consistently
that's the idea behind James Clear's book "Atomic Habits"
which is this idea that if you can get just 1% better every day at something, it will take a minimum amount of effort
but over time the effects will compound just like compound interest
and James Clear proposes the two-minute rule:
'pick something that you can do in just two minutes'
So if you want to run a marathon, start by say running two minutes a day
that is something that you can't say you don't have time for
and once that habit sticks, well then you can try to extend it into something more ambitious
the next problem with resolutions is they are too often vague
the most common resolutions that people make are to
lose weight, exercise more, and to eat better.
the problem is those things are so nondescript that it's hard to know if you're making progress
and it's really easy to regress into your old habits
so the science around this says you need to be specific
AND, write down your goals
people who write down their goals are 40% more likely to achieve them
that is pretty significant just by taking that step of putting pen to paper
and I'm thinking here in this video you should put your New Year's resolutions in the comments
because at least that is taking a step towards committing yourself to a goal for the year
My second new year's resolution for 2020 is to write in a daily planner every day of this year
In fact I can be more specific than that.
Um, I will write one word in this book each day
now I know one word might seem unhelpfully ridiculously little to write in this book
but I want to commit to this idea of starting small
with the idea that if I get in the habit of making the time to at least write down one word on each one of these pages,
well then maybe some days I will write more than one word
and that will be helpful in terms of planning my day a little bit
and so hopefully I will be more productive than I would have been otherwise
and then it's really important to track your progress in an obvious and visual way
and I'm going to use the everyday calendar by Simone Giertz
Oddly satisfying.
Where there's a button for every day of the year
and you can push it and the light turns on
and that is really satisfying
so I think this will encourage me to write down a word early in the day so that I can go and turn on the light for that day
what's great about this is it's a very visual way to track my progress
and to have it in an obvious place where I can look at it all the time
and I'll put it in the back of shot for some of my videos in 2020
so you guys can see how I'm progressing towards this goal
so the third major problem with New Year's resolutions is that people seem to think
it's about having more willpower or motivation, being able to resist temptation better
but willpower is a finite resource
and it can be depleted that there are gonna be some bad days and that is when you're gonna relapse
so relying on willpower is not an effective strategy
and research has shown that people who have better self-control
actually just have to exercise it less
the way they're able to do that is by structuring their environments so they don't have to exercise their willpower
I find in my kitchen it's always like the treats and snacks which are left out on the counter
but the veggies which are like tucked away in the vegetable crisper drawer
and I get it because you know that's where the veggies are meant to go to keep them crisp,
but the problem is if I don't see them, if they're not in my line of sight, I will just end up eating what's on the counter
and not going digging for veggies
so we need a way of changing our environments so that we make better choices
which brings me to my third and final new year's resolution for 2020:
I am deleting social media apps off of my phone
I'm getting rid of Instagram and Twitter. You are watching the exact moment that I do that
the reason for this is I find I just kill way too much time going into these apps
and research shows that any tiny distraction that you have during your day
takes you you know something like 20,25 minutes to get back into your work
and so I'm losing a lot of time to just procrastinating with these apps
so I'm getting rid of them off my phone
so I don't have to use my willpower to not click them mindlessly as I normally would
and I've actually downloaded an app that will block news sites and block my social media while I'm working
because that way I don't have to restrain myself
the systems that I put in place will restrain me for me
I know a lot of this sounds a little bit CGP Grey
but I think he's on to something
you don't need to follow the day-to-day movements of the news cycle and you do not need to be scrolling social media all the time
particularly when you're trying to get useful work done
so that's how I feel
I want to optimize my 2020 by locking down all my potential distractions not needing any willpower,
and I've got some small, specific, and written down,
targeted with tracking plans for 2020
so I'd love to know what you're planning for 2020 for your New Year's resolutions
What are your plans for the next decade?
Hey! this episode of Veritasium is supported by viewers like you on Patreon and by Audible
You know what's an excellent habit? Listening to one audiobook every month
and as an Audible member, that's easy.
Because each month you get one credit good for any audiobook regardless of price from Audible's huge selection
Now a couple of the audiobooks I have on my phone are atomic habits by James Clear,
and Deep Work by Cal Newport
and I was re-listening to these books recently when I was taking my kids out for nap drives
and in fact it was on one of these drives that I came up with my new year's resolutions for 2020
and hence this episode
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and the book that I am listening to next is called Behave -- the biology of humans at our best and worst by Robert M Sapolsky
it explains why we make the decisions we do in all sorts of situations
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