It’s been about a month now since you rang in the New Year with friends, drinks and good intentions. So the obvious question to ask yourself is: have I lived up to my hopes of sticking to my New Year’s resolutions? The answer, in a word, would probably be a resounding NO.
At the risk of sounding cynical, chances are you have already broken at least one of your well-intended resolutions (if you’re being honest with yourself, that is).
The beginning of a new year is synonymous with the chance to begin afresh and make those changes in your life that you have been thinking about making for the past six months but never really got around to. It’s a nice, comforting idea in theory, but when it comes right down to it, what makes you think that you’ll be able to make them now if you couldn’t before the clock struck 12?
The New York Times recently published some statistics about New Year’s resolutions and the results aren’t very pretty.
They found that 75 percent of people maintain their New Year’s resolution past the first week — not a wholly disheartening percentage but then again, 25 percent have already failed after seven days. Past the six-month mark, however, a mere 46 percent of the people who resolved to make changes have successfully maintained their efforts. With numbers like these, you might ask yourself why we even bother to make resolutions in the first place.
It isn’t the promise to commit that is so difficult, but rather the continuation of said commitment. We all generally recognize the changes we want to make — we just tend to need a push to actually make them. This is why every year on Dec. 31, millions of people around the world say goodbye to the previous year, pardon themselves for their forgotten resolutions made so ardently 12 months before and resolve to make any number of changes that will inevitably be laid to waste by that time next year. And so the cycle continues.
In making our New Year’s resolutions we tend to lack a certain originality, as is made evident by the top 10 resolutions, which have remained more or less the same over the past decade. The most popular resolution of 2011 was, of course, to lose weight.
In a country where almost 34 percent of the adult population is obese, this can barely come as a surprise. Studies show that the obesity epidemic in America has plateaued in the last five years — undoubtedly good news but you can rest assure that this trend is not due to the prevalence of “lose weight” as the top entry in the resolution notebook.
Quitting smoking is also continuously popular among resolutions — somewhat unfortunate considering only five out of 100 people who attempt to quit smoking actually succeed in the long run.
Sarah Gordon, a senior double-majoring in psychology and human development, has heard this story before.
“At least one of my friends has made the resolution to quit smoking for the past four years now, but none of them have actually quit yet,” Gordon said.
The remaining eight resolutions on the top-10 list include (in no particular order): get a job/get a better job; get organized; spend more time with loved ones; run a marathon; get out of debt; fall in love; read more; be happy. Each of these goals, although certainly attainable, inevitably presents its own roadblocks and difficulties to be overcome, not the least of which is putting in the effort to make it happen.
While making resolutions for the New Year may appear to be setting yourself up for failure, the reality is that people who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than those who don’t make them. This being said, the real question is, why don’t we make resolutions a lot more often?
“My New Year’s resolution was actually to set more goals for myself throughout the year because I mean, you don’t always know for sure what you’re going to want to accomplish before the year even starts,” said Daniel Petersen, a sophomore double-majoring in cinema and comparative literature.
It is true that a new year carries implications of a new chance for change, but increasing the occurrence of resolution-making across the board would ultimately increase the chance of fulfilling said resolutions. Who says it has to be a once-a-year kind of thing? Instead, maybe there should be a universal policy of making resolutions as life calls for them — some of which will be maintained and many of which will invariably fall to the wayside, but all of which will have been solid attempts toward change.
And if just one too many seem to fail, then hey, there’s always next year!