The start of a new calendar year is a time to reflect and look ahead — and an opportunity to make a promise to change or improve oneself. Have you done it yet? Studies have shown that most people who set New Year’s goals fail to accomplish them. In fact, a 2016 study found that of the 41 percent of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, only nine percent felt they were successful in keeping them. While weight loss or fitness may be what first comes to mind, many resolutions are related to self-improvement or education. A report by sports platform Strava (using data from its nearly 100 million members) found there is a certain day on which people who made fitness resolutions are most likely to give up — Jan. 17. With this date approaching in just a week, this is an opportune time to think about the sustainability of your efforts.

There are ways to try to make your resolutions more long-lasting. A book published in 1960 by Dr. Maxwell Maltz referenced 21 days as the time it takes to form a habit – something that people have since accepted as fact. Other studies have shown that this time varies, but on average it takes three times as long for someone to form a habit. According to the National Institutes of Health, pleasure-based habits are particularly difficult to break because enjoyable behavior prompts your brain to release dopamine, which creates the craving to do it again.

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