A YouGov poll in early 2015 found that about 63% of Brits planned to make New Year's resolutions. But, for most, good intentions fade faster than a hangover, with only half of those that make a resolution still on track by the end of January. A mere 14% stick it out for the full year (although it seems that those in their twenties are made of sterner stuff, with almost half ending the year with a new habit established). Seemingly, where there is a will there is not always willpower - sometimes we all need a little help. Health improvement businesses are getting in on the act and an increasing number of companies are coming up with innovative ways to help us keep our resolutions.
1 - Lose Weight. Not surprisingly, our main concern is shifting the pounds. The solution for most people falls into two groups: eat less food or use more energy. So it's no wonder that the gyms and weight loss groups are in promotional overdrive as we head into the New Year. An independent gym has pledged to overcome the week three drop off in attendance with an innovative pricing structure. The evangelical owners genuinely want people to get fit - so they charge more for non-attendance. The annual contract is still there but they give you money back every time you go - a smart way to leverage loss aversion and still be commercial (because clearly this won't work for the dedicated shirker).
2 - Read more books. The desire to read more (and the peer driven guilt that you should) are compromised by the many other things that we can do instead - mindlessly scrolling on a smartphone for one. Reading can be quietly competitive. Whether it's breadth, depth, volume, quality or currency, no doubt you'll be judged on your choice. Goodreads, the app for readers bought by Amazon three years ago, is based on reviewing and sharing. Faced with the books your friends are reading and rating, the desire to compete kicks in. Those using reading rating apps and sites tend to read an average of ten books more each year. Cause rather than affect maybe, but worth a try for would-be bookworms nonetheless.
3 - Travel more. From taking a year out to see the world, to making the most of the weekends, people worldwide get the wanderlust come January. A desire matched by that of the travel industry to help them turn thought into action. 2017 could be a year of big change for travel with two businesses seemingly poles apart sharing a common aim - to make travel truly fulfil its promise. Airbnb has been working with School of Life to help people personalise their connections with a new place through human contact (and while we are at it, to not stay so fully in contact with people back home). Meanwhile Thomas Cook has overhauled its offer and the way it markets by speaking to people directly and in a way that helps them get what they want from a holiday.
4 - Stop Smoking. January and quitting are as interlinked as ever. Though newer quitting events such as Stoptober have gained huge traction, many smokers will still be hoping that this January sees them stop for good. With money increasingly a reason to quit (and with a pack of 20 of some top brands heading towards £10, it's no wonder) there are some handy tools for the price-motivated quitter. The NHS Smokefree range of tools put money-saving front and centre, tracking every day you remain Smokefree and totalling the money saved to date. Smokefree also covers a whole range of services and tools to help you stay motivated and offers practical support. So whatever your motivation, there's help at hand.
5 - Find love. With around a third of Brits single at any one time it's no wonder that finding love is high on the agenda. And with the proliferation of dating, hook-up and friend-finding apps, the choice of how to go about finding someone special may well be overwhelming. 2016 saw the start of brands getting in on the act. Knorr's Love at First Taste explored food as a way to make a connection; and more recently Spotify has partnered with Tinder to connect the mood with the music (users can now hear people's personal anthems as they swipe right).
As we leave one very strange year behind and look to what a new year holds, we could all do a lot worse than supporting each other on individual challenges and dreams. And if businesses are finding ways to help us maintain our resolutions, then so much the better. Good luck!