New Year’s Resolutions

We all make ’em, but do we all keep ’em?

In January, I always say to myself “this is the year I’ll ________ (lose weight, stick to my budget, exercise more)” and after a few weeks, my resolve fades away in favor of Ben & Jerry’s Milk and Cookies ice cream, a new pair of shoes, and sitting on the couch, watching House Hunters. Then, a new year comes around, and like the goldfish that forgets about the little plastic castle, I make the same resolutions again.

According to Stephen Shapiro,

  • 45% of Americans usually set New Year’s Resolutions; 17% infrequently set resolutions; 38% absolutely never set resolutions.
  • Only 8% of people are always successful in achieving their resolutions. 19% achieve their resolutions every other year.  49% have infrequent success.  24% (one in four people) NEVER succeed and have failed on every resolution every year. That means that 3 out of 4 people almost never succeed.
  • Of those who do set resolutions (these add to more than 100% because some people set multiple resolutions):
    • 34% set resolutions related to money
    • 38% set resolutions related to weight
    • 47% set resolutions related to self-improvement or education
    • 31% set resolutions related to relationships
  • It appears that the younger you are, the more likely you are to achieve your resolutions
    • 39% of those in their twenties achieve their resolutions every year or every other year
    • Less than 15% of those over 50 achieve their resolutions every year or every other year
  • The less happy you are, the more likely you are to set New Year’s Resolutions.  This isespecially true for those who set money-related resolutions: 41% are not happy, 34% are moderately happy, and 25% are happy.
  • And here’s the punchline – There is no correlation between happiness and resolution setting/success.  People who achieve their resolutions every year are NO happier than those who do not set resolutions or who are unsuccessful in achieving them.

So how do we avoid being among the 75% who never succeed? Shapiro suggests that we set “theme-based” resolutions instead of “goal-based” resolutions. A theme-based resolution sets the tone for the year and banishes the kind of all-or-nothing thinking that sabotages our success.

This year, my theme is “Less thinking, more doing!” I over-analyze things and spend a lot of time preparing to take action, thinking I am making progress toward my goals. Last weekend, I decided that I wanted to learn how to cook, so instead of spending hours finding recipes I wanted to try, I picked two from The Pioneer Woman Cooks, bought the ingredients, and then made cinnamon rolls and tomato soup from scratch! Less thinking, more doing! (And more eating – yum!)

One of the hardest things for me to do is to have compassion for myself, so I’ve decided that if I do fall into the trap of over-thinking, I’ll give myself a little grace. Perfection isn’t the goal. Progress is.

My new favorite organization guru, Lorie Marrero, shared a video on her website, The Clutter Diet, in which she offers suggestions on how to make this the year you stop swimming around the little plastic castle. I’m printing out her list and adding it to my vision board.

New Year’s Resolutions

When 2013 rolls around, I hope I can look back and relish the ups and downs I experienced when I didn’t think so much.


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