New habits die easy: Average person gives up on positive lifestyle changes after 7 weeks

LONDON — Dramatic lifestyle changes like new exercise regimes, cutting alcohol intake and eating less meat typically last less than two months, according to a recent survey. The poll of 2,000 British adults reveals people stick to a new habit for an average of just seven weeks before giving it up, while 21 percent only keep at it for a month.

More than half (53 percent) of respondents admit they’ve tried to make positive changes to their habits in the past year, but failed to keep them up. Results show that exercising more often, going to bed earlier, and hitting 10,000 steps each day were the top three habits people tried to adopt. Other common lifestyle changes include eating less meat and more salad, turning the lights off when not in the room, drinking less alcohol, and having more “me” time.

However, it also emerged that 54 percent have vowed to only make little changes to their lifestyle moving forward, with 72 percent believing small goals are more achievable and realistic than bigger shifts. The study also finds that 67 percent of adults are more likely to fail at sticking to a lifestyle change if they attempt too many at once.

The OnePoll survey was commissioned by centre:mk, a popular shopping center in England, to launch its environmental exhibition highlighting the impact of small changes.

“It’s interesting to see the habits people try and make as part of their daily routine, but give up on,” says Kim Priest, a centre:mk spokesperson, in a statement. “We all have goals we want to implement into our lifestyles, but often it’s easier said than done. But we believe one small change at a time can have a big impact in the long run. It’s easier to concentrate on smaller adjustments and give it all your focus rather than feeling overwhelmed by lots of big changes to diet, fitness, finances and environmental habits.”

Reasons for implementing changes initially included improving physical health (32 percent), saving money (31 percent) and to do their part for the planet (24 percent). But lack of willpower (27 percent), motivation (27 percent) and time (20 percent) resulted in failing.

When successfully sticking to a new habit, participants say they feel positive (37 percent) and proud (30 percent), but disappointed (34 percent) and frustrated (28 percent) when they don’t. Physical health changes are most important to respondents (33 percent), followed by social and behavioral (27 percent) and environmental (22 percent).

When it comes to eco-friendly habits, three out of four people believe if everyone made a small change to their lifestyle it would collectively have a big impact on the planet. And 48 percent of those polled have made more adjustments to their lifestyle as they’ve got older.

Situations like the pandemic (29 percent), a health scare (25 percent) and becoming a parent or grandparent (21 percent) made people want to make a change for the better. The likes of social media (21 percent) and the news (19 percent) have also inspired people to overhaul their habits, as well as family (30 percent) and friends (27 percent).

Top 40 Lifestyle Changes/Habits That People Most Often Try, But Fail To Do

1. Exercising more often
2. Going to bed earlier
3. Hitting 10,000 steps each day
4. Reducing my sugar intake
5. Going on my phone less
6. Give up or cut back on my alcohol intake
7. Eat more salad
8. Reading more
9. Recycling my trash
10. Having more “me time”
11. Meal planning for the week ahead
12. Eating less meat
13. Cycling or walking over driving
14. Taking quicker showers
15. Reducing the amount of carryout orders
16. Keeping houseplants alive
17. Shopping in BYO stores (e.g. fill up your own bottle of milk)
18. Buying loose food rather than packaged (e.g. bananas without a plastic wrapper)
19. Changing to a reusable razor rather than disposable
20. Meditating
21. Turning off sockets when not in the room
22. Recycling clothes rather than throwing them away (e.g. giving to charity shops)
23. Not over-filling the coffee pot or kettle
24. Turning off lights when not in the room
25. Using reusable makeup wipes rather than disposable
26. Going to the gym more often
27. Turning off the water when brushing my teeth
28. Freezing or reusing leftovers rather than throwing them away
29. Buying locally produced food
30. Giving more to charity (e.g. either time, things or money)
31. Taking a lunchtime walk / break
32. Using reusable tote bags
33. Using reusable coffee cups and water bottles
34. Trying a vegetarian diet
35. Cooking in bulk
36. Keeping a journal
37. Trying a vegan diet
38. Using metal or paper straws rather than plastic
39. Growing my own food
40. Volunteering

Report written by 72Point writer Alice Hughes

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