According to a study by the University of Scranton, 45 percent of Americans “usually make New Year’s Resolutions,” but, unfortunately, only 8 percent “are successful in achieving their resolution.” If you’ve made a resolution now, you are probably pretty optimistic about your chance of success. But sooner or later, the pressures of life might start weighing down on you. One moment of weakness, and your New Year’s resolution can break. Better luck in 2017?
For Taylor Paddock, 18, resolutions are more of a change than anything. “It’s more of me getting the point that I’m supposed to be at. I’m putting myself in the mindset that I should have had last semester,” she says. Taylor strives to “be more productive in all aspects,” and for her, it involves becoming what she considers to be an adult.
But, right now, it’s only one month into the new year. Seventy-one percent of people maintain their resolution for over two weeks, but as the weeks drag on, the percentages get smaller. When I asked Taylor if she had committed to a New Year’s resolution before, she said “every year ever.” And Taylor isn’t alone.
These first two weeks after every new year is often the busiest time for gyms, as weight loss was the number one resolution for 2015. According to Men’s Health, there is around a 30 to 50 percent traffic surge during the first few weeks of the year. Gym rats hate these people, but, fortunately for the gym rats, and unfortunately for the newcomers, gym traffic tends to normalize rather quickly. “Generally, they stay for around 90 days,” a trainer said at my local gym.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not saying resolutions are impossible. You can fall into that 8 percent of people who stick to their resolution. Just the fact that you have explicitly made a resolution makes you 10 times more likely to achieve your goal. People in their 20s were twice as successful in keeping their resolutions (a good sign for us college-age youngsters). But a statistic is just a statistic. To accomplish your goal, you need to go beyond the resolution.
I am lucky to have been in the 8 percent. I went from 230 pounds to 185 pounds by running, dieting, and exercising. For me, it was a lifestyle change. I was so used to overeating after football practice that I had never even thought of my weight being a problem. Of course, I also read all these statistics, and felt, for a second, that it was impossible. I achieved my goal nonetheless.
The problem with the New Year’s resolution is that most people feel obliged to take one, even if they haven’t seriously contemplated making a change. Making the resolution is the easiest part; keeping it is another issue.
An important part of making a resolution is to make sure it is specific. If you want to lose weight, designate an actual number of pounds you want to lose. If you want to be more active, tell yourself how many minutes a day you’ll be exercising. Make sure you have an actual goal that you can track. Avoiding a vague resolution can help you achieve your goal.
If this is the year when you are turning your life around, know that it is not impossible, but it may be difficult. Completely turning your life around is much more difficult a resolution than is drinking more water. Make sure to stay motivated. If you are already slacking on your resolution, change it to something a bit easier. Instead of going to the gym every single day, try to just go more often. Instead of going on a hardcore diet, try just eating at least one serving of vegetables a day.
Whatever you are doing, know that the New Year’s Resolution is possible. Good Luck!