Do you make resolutions every New Year’s? Does the act give you a newfound enthusiasm, or does it instead evoke reluctance? Varied as our reactions might be, there’s one fact that is universally true of New Year’s resolutions, and that is that we keep making them. Not only do we keep making them, but they’re also a widespread topic of conversation. Among any group of friends or acquaintances, it’s likely that many of them know not only their own resolutions, but also those of their friends and companions. Most resolutions tend to be of the self-improvement variety, such as weight loss, healthier diet, stopping an unhealthy habit (such as smoking), or getting in more exercise. Although some folks do go for more gentle resolutions (e.g. taking it easier, not to be so self-critical, finding time for naps), these tend to be less common. There’s something about a new year that pushes folks forward, encouraging them to be better, go further, and above all, do things differently than they’ve done them in the past.
The big question is, how many of these resolutions are kept? One study by time management experts FranklinCovey suggests just under a quarter become a longer-lasting habit. It’s a testament to the undying spirit of optimism that given these odds, so many of us continue to make resolutions. Perhaps the key to keeping our resolutions is to make more realistic and meaningful ones and to review them monthly so that we get a frequent, judgement-free chance to start over. It’s more realistic that we’ll have to keep coming back to our good intentions and trying again and again.