Failure of ‘easy’ resolutions show it is time for Brits to take a long-term view

by | Feb 6, 2022

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  • People believe popular new year’s resolutions such as exercising or eating healthily are easier to commit to than saving into their pension
  • Less than half of adults say they would easily commit to saving an extra £75 a month into their pension
  • One in five people don’t currently save into their pension each month

New research released today from Penfold, the digital pensions platform, has found people find it easier to commit to going to the gym twice a week or limiting their social media use, than topping up their pension, suggesting people prioritise habits where they can see an immediate benefit over committing to long-term goals. This is despite the fact that nearly half of UK adults (48%) say having money is about providing security.

New year, not so new habits 

Indeed, peoples’ commitment to habits such as health, diet and fitness is reflected by the fact that doing more exercise or improving one’s diet are the top new year’s resolutions for Britons this year. However, with research showing that nearly two-thirds of people will have abandoned their resolutions by the end of January, today’s figures from Penfold are a wake-up call for Britons to focus on longer-term aims, such as what type of retirement they want, rather than quick fix resolutions.


Penfold’s survey of 1,750 UK working adults found that less than half (46%) said committing to saving an extra £75 per month into their pension on top of their usual monthly contributions would be easy to do.

In comparison, 60% of people say committing to eating healthily would be easy, while over half (52%) say going to the gym or exercising twice would be easy to take up. On top of this, nearly seven in ten people (68%) would find it easy to reduce their time spent on social media by an hour every day, while 72% would easily be able to limit the number of times they spend money on entertainment or dining out to twice a week.

Much of this behaviour towards prioritising short-term goals can be attributed to that fact that people are more likely to commit to a habit if they can feel the positive effects of doing so immediately, according to insight from leading psychologist, Dr Linda Papadopoulos.


However, committing to short-term habits can set unrealistic expectations of what can be achieved quickly and leads to a tendency to give up a habit after an initial failure, as seen by the majority of people abandoning new year’s resolutions by the end of January. As such, people should instead take steps to think longer-term and commit to habits which they can break down into achievable steps and build on. This includes making sure they can have the retirement they deserve, by visualising what they want their retirement to look like and breaking down these aims into more manageable savings goals which are easy to stick to.

Missed money milestones

Dr Papadopoulos also highlights peoples’ difficulty to envisage the future, meaning the repercussions of not saving for retirement are too distant for people to realise.


As a result, this is having serious implications on peoples’ pension pots, with nearly one in five (19%) saying they don’t currently save into their pension each month, worryingly rising to 21% for those aged 45-54 and 22% for those aged 55-64, especially as people in these age brackets are close to retirement.

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