By Judy Woodward

Q. How likely is it someone will actually keep their New Year’s resolution?

A. The New Year is coming soon, and you’ve resolved to give up smoking. Or lose those extra 10 pounds. Again.

What is the chance that your resolution will truly stick this time?

Science has spoken on this question, and the results are not encouraging.

According to the authors of a scientific study in the Journal of Substance Abuse, only 19% of those studied were able to maintain their resolutions for a period of two years or more. That means more than four out of five people didn’t succeed with their proposed changes. Some resolutions didn’t even make it through the first week.

Almost one quarter of those studied broke their resolutions in the first week of January. Those who did stick to their resolutions over two years attributed their success to “stimulus control, reinforcement and willpower.” 

You can read more about their success in “The resolution solution: longitudinal examination of New Year’s change attempts” by Norcross and Vangarelli in the Journal of Substance Abuse 1988;1(2):127-34. (Cited in the online database

Judy Woodward, who lives in St. Anthony Park, is a reference librarian at the Roseville Library, 2180 N. Hamline Ave. The library’s general phone number is 651-724-6001.

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