Before declaring this year’s resolutions, think back to last year. What, if anything, stuck? According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, Americans’ top 10 New Year’s resolutions in 2012 were:
1. Lose weight.
2. Get organized.
3. Spend less, save more.
4. Enjoy life to the fullest.
5. Stay fit and healthy.
6. Learn something exciting.
7. Quit smoking.
8. Help others accomplish their dreams.
9. Fall in love.
10. Spend more time with family.
Sound familiar? They might not — according to the study, only 45 percent of us routinely make resolutions, and of those, in 2012 only 8 percent were “successful in achieving their resolution.” But it’s not all done in vain, as the data goes on to suggest that “people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.”
Interestingly, age played a role when it came to success — people in their 20s were nearly twice as likely to “achieve their resolution” than people older than 50. While 75 percent were able to “maintain their resolution” through the first week, the number dropped to roughly half six months down the road.
Given these rather grim statistics, is making a resolution a pointless venture? Naturally, it depends on whom you ask.
“I think it’s stupid,” said Bart Robinson, who was skateboarding down Broad Street in Nevada City Saturday. “No one ever follows through.”
But for many Foothills residents, the answer tends to not be quite so definite.
We asked a few more community members to weigh in on the matter.
Ivan D Najera, musician:
“I think making resolutions is not only worthwhile, but a ‘must!’
“A resolution, derived from the word ‘resolve,’ is a commitment with one’s self to make an improvement where we acknowledge a shortfall or a deficiency in our aspired self-perfecting self.
“In simple words, we want to be better than we already are by correcting those ‘habits’ that lead us into self-destruction. We all should make resolutions to change for the better … it makes sense to start the new year with a strong determination and conviction that we ‘can’ and ‘will’ make the change in our lives, doing whatever it takes to achieve it.”
Cindy Maple, executive director, Hospitality House:
“New Year’s resolutions don’t work for me, so I don’t make them. They create too much pressure and last about three hours. The new year is always a time for reflections; to think about all those ways we can improve our lives by changing habits we perceive as harmful or infringing on our ultimate happiness. I think the better route is to aim for opportunities to be happy, to find moments of total contentment. Define what makes you happy and make those things happen. It’s a lot easier to change habits when we are content and at peace.”
Kim Culbertson, author:
“I looked up the etymology of ‘resolution’ and found that it stems from ‘breaking into parts,’ or ‘the process of reducing into simpler forms,’ and I really like that conceptually. While I’m not the kind of person to make absolute statements about what I plan to do, I do like the ritual of setting intentions for the new year, and breaking my intentions into ‘simpler forms’ in a way. I also like the idea of setting small things in motion, like, ‘I’d like to notice the light this year.’ I tend to avoid words like ‘more’ or ‘better’ because I don’t like them; they’re too bossy and comparative. But I like to say things out loud like, ‘I want to sit with my daughter by the fire and hear what she has to say about things she’s noticed during her day.’ I feel like the ritual is really about saying them out loud, about finding time to take stock of things and then setting some small things in motion for the new year.”
Julia Carol, life and relationship coach:
“Resolutions can work if we resolve to do something that we truly want to do — not just something we should do. A resolution has to actually be something that is possible for us to achieve, and you have to be specific — define the baby steps you’ll take toward achieving your goal. You’ve got to treat yourself with kindness and compassion along the way and, most importantly, get support — the more kinds, the better.”
Molly Fisk, poet, author, teacher
“[Making New Year’s] resolutions is idiotic. I have an alternative to suggest … my friend Jane has a better idea of what to do on Jan. 1: Pick a word for the year. This is something you can ruminate on before the fire or curled under your blankets just before you fall asleep. You can even turn it over in your mind while stacking firewood or replacing those pipes under the house that burst in the last freeze … A funny thing happens, too, when you start thinking of which word might be a good one. In my five years of following this practice, the minute I open my mind to find a word, the word finds me instead. And it won’t go away even when I want it to. What choosing a word does is to open up the year before you. It gives you something to explore, to look forward to and pay attention to as the weeks roll by. Usually what you discover from your word isn’t something you ever could have predicted.”
Jesse Locks, director, Nevada City Film Festival director; co-founder, See Jane Do and Passion Into Action Women’s Conference:
“I think it’s very healthy and helpful to take stock, reflect on the past year and make a resolution or have an intention or two for the coming year. My resolutions are always the same — travel, explore, read, learn, sleep, relax, spend time with friends and family more. This year, especially in light of the events of last month, my resolutions have changed. They’re pretty simple — cultivate magic and wonder, spread love and joy, have faith in possibility, and above all, turn off the electronics and just be.”
While it’s fair to say that the beginning of every new year tends to be a time of self-assessment and reflection, often it’s the younger ones who can sum it up best.
After his mother explained what a resolution was, 7-year-old Tom Watanabe climbed the ladder of Pioneer Park’s big slide and said, “I want to be nicer so I can have more friends.”
For information, go online at www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/
To contact staff writer Cory Fisher email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (530) 477-4203.