The New Year's ritual of resolving to lose weight, get organized, and give up smoking is not only pointless—78% of resolutions fail—but may actually do harm, psychologists say, as broken resolutions leave people feeling dispirited and powerless. In a study of 700 people, those who tried to change by following typical self-help advice, like focusing on fantasies of themselves as thinner, were most likely to fail, while those who made incremental changes and kept journals had better chances of succeeding.
"If you are trying to lose weight," the psychologist heading the study told the Guardian, "it's not enough to stick a picture of a model on your fridge." What will catapult you into the 22% who do make good on their Jan. 1 vows? Those who broke their goal into smaller steps upped their success rate to 35%; those who also rewarded themselves for incremental goals met, told their friends about their resolutions, focused on the benefits of change, and kept a diary boosted that number to 50%.