It's hard to be optimistic about New Year's resolutions when 50 to 80 percent of them are destined to fail. The fitness industry often bases its business model on the frailty of resolutions, certain that most of the mob of new gym members in January will be missing in action by April. It takes a certain mentality to transform a workout resolution into a done deal. Psychologists have mapped out routes to dodge human nature's traps and help people reach their fitness goals, despite the odds.
Conscientiousness is a pretty good indicator of ability to accomplish goals, says Stephen Graef, a sports psychologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. People in the habit of getting things done are a bit more likely to have success.
But that doesn't mean the rest of us — the ones whose failed resolutions subsidize gym rats' workouts — should give up. All it takes is some determination and an end to the "wing it" approach. Like buying a car or going on vacation, the decision to exercise more, join a gym or pick up a new physical activity should include research. It's "just about being deliberate," Graef says.