For many of us, our New Year’s resolutions are merely a to-do list for the 1st week of January. Or worse.
Counting on that are most gyms in the US (and possibly elsewhere). Which is why they sell many, many more subscriptions than can ever fit inside at one time.
So what’s behind it?
Yet another bias, writes Ana Swanson in the Washington Post today:
According to behavioral economists, the reason is that people are prone to something called “projection bias,” in which they tend to assume that their preferences in the future will be fairly similar to what they are right now. Projection bias is also why sales of convertibles and houses with pools spike during the summer – and why convertibles bought on days with abnormally nice weather are more likely to be returned quickly.
So what are we to do about it?
1. Give up on Gyms and sit tight.
2. Give up on Gyms and buy exercise machines at home. Then afterwards, when you don’t use the equipment, excuse yourself, because, you know, sunk costs, and sink deeper into your couch.
3. Or, out-trick your tricky noggin. To quote Ms Swanson:
Though gym attendance tends to taper off somewhat over time,various studies have shown that people who offer themselves these types of incentives continue to go to the gym at higher rates even after the rewards cease.
So if you’re trying to goad yourself into exercising, you might consider creating a contract with yourself and giving yourself a small, designated reward (probably not a cupcake) each time you go to the gym. Then you can gradually change or eliminate the rewards once your gym habit is firmly established. If you stop exercising for whatever reason, just repeat the process.
Here’s wishing you and your resolutions a very Happy New Year!