12 Studies of Christmas: New Year's Resolutions

Remember the start of 2020? Corona meant lime wedges with rubbish beer, you worried more about computer viruses than real-life ones, and face-masks were worn at a spa, not on the tube.

Maybe you had a New Year's Resolution, made with good intentions and a full 365 days to complete. How did you get on? We asked 100 of our eager Prolific beavers whether they managed to fulfil their resolutions this year, global pandemic notwithstanding...

Firstly, a grand total of 64% made a resolution, with the other 36% satisfied enough with their 2019 to not bother with any more self improvement!

The types of resolution chosen had some predictable results, with health & fitness dominating the data.


Next up was those wanting to improve their job prospects, and then a more philosophical approach, with participants wanting to be happier and more mindful in 2020.

An old resolution staple, quitting smoking, only accounted for 8.6% of responses. Given that rates of smoking in general are in decline, this resolution, like the habit itself, may be on the way out!

We took a closer look at the health & fitness category, as this provided the most data to dig into.


We found an almost exactly three-way-split of Yes, No and Sort of, for how successful participants were in their endeavour. For those that succeeded, taking part in a specific sport lead to higher success. Given that our No respondents blamed gym closures for their failures, perhaps taking up an outdoor sport like running could have compensated. Our Sort of respondents, remarked that whilst they flourished during the summer weather, they went back to their old inactive ways once the autumn had rolled in.

What about the rest? How many of the others kept their resolution? Research conducted by Strava shows that the second Friday of January is the point at which most resolutions fail.


38% of participants say they kept their resolutions, with the most successful resolution category being to study more. Perhaps, by closing all the bars on campus, COVID-19 might have actually contributed to greater exam success...

Those learning or developing skills (e.g. reiki, drawing, recording an album), were the least successful. Participants cited being hindered by "a lack of deadlines and motivation," and in the case of the ill-fated album, a fear of being "overhead singing by quaratined neighbours."

One interesting outlier was a participant who resolved to quit coffee in 2020, but blamed "being offered coffee all the time at work" for their failure. Not a bad place to work by the sounds of it, and certainly not an easy resolution in the first place, if you ask us!

Fixed assessment dates and more external accountability among those studying for exams and driving tests seem to have been key determinants for success. If you're wondering how to plan for success in 2021, we'd recommend making sure that your goal has some sort of measurable target to hit before the end of the year, preferably one measured by someone else!

From all of us at Prolific, we wish you a peaceful and happy new year in 2021. Oh, and best of luck with your new resolutions - according to our study, 64% of you are going to give it another go in 2021!

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