It turns out that 22nd of January is when the majority of us abandon our well-meaning resolutions and revert back to bad habits and behaviours.
How do we know? Well, Google Trends told us of course.
Google Trends holds the key to tragedy; the majority of our hopeful and sanguine searches on the 1st of January are then opposed on or before the 22nd.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at the evidence below.
Resolution 1: Weight Loss
According to a study by YouGov, the most common New Year’s Resolution is the age old adage: to lose weight. And Google Trends seems to back this up.
At the beginning of the month (January 1st – 3rd), searches for “how to lose weight” peaked in the UK, and (sadly) gradually declined toward the tail end of January.
A for effort though.
Another sign of our attempted achievements are the increased searches for everyone’s favourite HIIT trainer, Joe Wicks, AKA ‘The Body Coach’.
Similar to the weight loss searches, enquiries about the buff Londoner peaked at the beginning of January before plummeting towards the end of the month. No midget trees for them then.
To put things in perspective, here’s how ‘how to lose weight’ (blue) compared against searches for ‘Domino’s Pizza’ (red). It’s a sad sight to see.
Resolution 2: Quit Drinking
Next up we have the promise to cull your drinking habits. Once again, we see a similarly buoyant beginning followed by a depressing downturn as the month goes on, with a particularly distressing dip on doomsday (AKA January 22nd).
Seems like not many of us can face a month without the bittersweet bang of a bevvy and, if I do say so myself, we’re a particularly lugubrious bunch without it.
Resolution 3: Quit Smoking
And last but not least, we have the steadfast decision to quit smoking.
Many a Niquitin advert alerted our foolish friends and family that quitting the habit would be a smooth and simple process, and what a better time to drop the costly craze than at the New Year.
New Year New Me, am I right?
No, I’m wrong.
Just like the two tragic trends above, the search volume for getting shot of the smoke peaks at the beginning of January, only to distantly drop off as the month continues.
No matter the scary packaging picture, nor the heightened health warnings, it seems like us Brits just love a fag.
Why Do So Many Resolutions Fail?
If, like me, you’ve found yourself wallowing in self-pity and fruitlessly searching for a reason other than your inability to complete a task to blame for your failure, then fear not for I have found your answer!
According to a study by ComRes, of the 63% of UK adults who failed to keep their resolutions, at least 43% of them failed to even see out the month. But why?
ISOS Health’s Abigail Wilson surmises that many of those who vow to lose weight are often drawn into get-fit-quick fads over lifestyle or behavioural changes that may take longer, but have a tendency to yield long lasting results.
Psychology Professor Peter Herman furthers this fact of life in his theorised ‘false hope syndrome’ – a state of mind that it is intertwined with the cultural practice of making a resolution.
Many of those who make the vow are often of the belief that the changes made will drastically change their entire lives. Then, when it fails to have the desired effect, not only do they revert back to old behavioural patterns but their self-esteem is often badly bruised.
In summary, we’re all expecting too much too soon, and just because the clock strikes midnight it doesn’t mean our motivation will kick into gear.
But hey, only 11 months until we do it all again.
If you’d like to learn more about how Google Trends can tell us oh so much, you can do so here.