Research released today by youth charity The Prince’s Trust has exposed one of the nation’s guiltiest secrets – that more than two thirds of people in the UK have made a New Year’s resolution they haven’t kept.
The findings, based on a nationwide survey of 2,237 adults, highlight a tendency for people to give things up in January, with 62% of respondents claiming that they have tried to give something up before. However, despite their good intentions, most people who try to give things up say they usually don’t get through the month without cheating or going back to their old ways.
Unsurprisingly, the most common things people tend to give up in the New Year are chocolate, cigarettes and alcohol. Although most people deprive themselves in a bid to improve their health or to get back in shape after the Christmas break, their efforts often don’t have the desired effect – with more than half confessing that they didn’t achieve their goals.
It seems that there are many drawbacks to giving things up. One in four people (26%) find the worst part of giving something up to be depriving themselves of something without seeing any real benefits, while 34% struggle with turning down nice food and drink and almost a third (31%) grapple with feelings of guilt if they cheat on their resolution.
The temptation is often too much for broadcaster, DJ and Prince’s Trust Ambassador Neev Spencer, who has repeatedly tried (and failed) to give up chocolate for January. Neev said: “I find it really hard to give up things like chocolate, even for a small period of time. Even though I tell myself every year that I’m going to be good this time, all it takes is a fleeting glance at a bar of Galaxy and I’m in a world of chocolate deprived-pain. It doesn’t take long before I crack and I don’t know why I put myself through the trauma every year!”
Taking up new interests makes us happier
Although people in the UK are much more likely to try to give something up than they are to take up a new interest in the New Year, those who take something up are more likely to feel happier about their experience.
Elaine Hide had a couple of broken resolutions to her name when she decided to get involved with The Prince’s Trust. Elaine now volunteers as a business mentor for The Prince’s Trust Enterprise programme though Prince’s Trust Online, which is a new service that enables young people across the UK to access online support to start their own business or find a job.
Elaine says: “Giving something back to others, especially young people, was one of my goals for New Year a while back and I've kept it going. By being a mentor, I feel like I’m really making a difference to the lives of my mentee, and find it really satisfying to see them develop and take steps towards realising their business plans.”
Don’t Give Up – Give Back
Despite the benefits volunteering has to offer, people in the UK are far more likely to consider taking up a form of exercise or a creative hobby in the New Year than they are to volunteer for charity. While 48% of respondents would consider volunteering for charity, half of those who don’t do so currently (50%) say they don’t have enough time for it, and more than one in ten (13%) feel there is a lack of volunteering opportunities in their area that appeal to them.
Fortunately, the rise of initiatives such as Prince’s Trust Online, which makes volunteering more accessible by opening up roles that flex around busy lifestyles, is making these common concerns less relevant. The online availability of the platform means volunteers can now mentor young people remotely from anywhere in the UK, with a commitment of just two hours per week, making it easier for them to integrate volunteering into their lives.
As Elaine points out, “In reality, it’s really easy, even when running my own home and business, because I can coach and mentor young people remotely through the Prince’s Trust Online platform at a time and place that works for me. Having this flexibility has been the key to making volunteering a commitment I can continue to stick to.”
The Prince’s Trust is actively looking for people to volunteer as e-mentors to support the growth of Prince’s Trust Online, which launched in July 2017. The service particularly needs volunteers to support young people starting up their own business. The charity today launches its Don’t Give Up – Give Back campaign, which calls on people to ditch giving things up for January in favour of giving something back by volunteering for Prince’s Trust Online.
The Trust’s e-mentors provide invaluable one-to-one support for young people, enabling their mentees to learn the skills they need for self-employment or employment. In order to support one young person, e-mentors typically commit around two hours per week over a period of three months, and are able to schedule this time around any existing commitments.
To find out more about volunteering opportunities with The Prince’s Trust, visit www.princes-trust.org.uk.