Science of New Year's resolutions

Science of New Year's resolutions

Do you find New Year's resolutions hard to keep?

Have you made any New Year's resolutions? It's that time of year again, when many people resolve to learn a new skill, give up something that's bad for them, or simply put more effort in at school.

But do New Year's resolutions work? Richard Wiseman, a psychologist, thinks not. In 2007, he showed that 88% of all resolutions are broken. That's a poor record for resolution keeping!

Why are New Year's resolutions so hard to keep?

Our prefrontal cortex, a small area in the brain, is responsible for our willpower. The prefrontal cortex is pretty busy. It not only has to keep our New Year's resolutions on track, it also has to take charge of short term memory, solving abstract problems and keeping us focused. If your prefrontal cortex is so busy, no wonder most New Year's resolutions fail. It's not a lack of discipline, it's your poor, overworked brain being too busy!

Keeping New Year's resolutions

Train your willpower!

Some researchers think your willpower is just like a muscle. You can strengthen your willpower through exercising it, just like you can strengthen your muscles. If you concentrate on one thing at a time, such as improving your posture, this will strengthen you willpower in other areas. Pretty impressive! The key is not to overload your prefrontal cortex. Concentrate on just one thing at a time that you need willpower for. It will get easier with time!

To find out more about the science behind New Year's resolutions, visit Inside the Brain and Doctor Stu's Blog.