Lose weight, quit smoking, get organized; you tell yourself the same thing every year.
Except by February you weighed more than you did in November, you still find yourself shivering in the cold trying to light a smoke against the windshield, and all those bills and paperwork collecting dust on the fridge? Forget it. They are not going anywhere.
It is an odd tradition, this self-proposed deal to do something better for yourself, others or society as a whole. Yet creating New Year’s Resolutions is nothing new to the world today. The yearly tradition has dated as far back as 153 B.C., when a mythical king of early Rome called Janus – Janus, January, get it? – was placed at the head of the calendar. With two faces Janus was able to reflect on the past and look forward to the future and eventually came to represent the ancient symbol for resolutions. With that, the tradition of creating a change for the new year was born and practiced all around the world. [dull]
However, Janus apparently only looked forward to the near future. In a study done by professor John C. Norcross at the University of Scranton, it was found that 71 percent of participants kept their resolutions for only two weeks and 64 percent stayed true to their resolutions for just the month of January. Within three months, only 50 percent of participants had succeeded in sticking to their resolutions.
Not very impressive numbers if you ask me.
“Life gets crazy and then you never keep your resolution,” said Sarah Dull, a MSU Athletic Communications intern. “A resolution is something you really want to change and if you don’t want to change it bad enough then chances are you won’t do it.”
Setting and pursuing resolutions wholeheartedly is one strategy to making sure you do not become a part of the 50 percent who give up on their promises by April. And if you do not think there is anything you need to change in your life then it’s OK to be an individualist and go resolution-free next year.
“I haven’t even thought about it,” Dull said. “I think New Year’s resolutions should be boycotted and we can all just look forward to Lent.”
But she did say that if we as a world could set a unified resolution for a better society it would be for everyone to do their part in saving the environment. “It could really help and make a difference.”
[disco]Katie Koerner, a senior journalism student, agreed that if New Year’s Resolutions were made on a larger scale everyone could benefit as opposed to people making individual goals they know they’re likely to stray from.
“Government changes or policies that would result in free health care for everyone; now that would be beneficial to the nation,” Koerner said. The 21-year-old said that since high school she has been making the same resolutions to either work out more, lose weight or try to eat healthy – all of the usual resolutions that cause January gym memberships to skyrocket. Yet, by February she is back to her old ways.
“It can be hard, especially when you get busy, to stick to your resolution,” she said. “You either forget about it, or skip a day or two and then by the time you know it you’re not even following your resolution.”
Some experts recommend tweaking your lifestyle in order to fix this problem of tapering off in your routine. For most people, resolutions are made in order to promote a healthy or beneficial lifestyle change, so if losing five pounds by Valentine’s Day is what you plan to do, maybe going for a mile run before work every morning will be the sacrifice you have to make. On the same hand, setting realistic goals will also make success more likely since unattainable goals can be discouraging and almost always result in failure.
For example, choosing to lose 45 pounds by Valentines Day so you can land that special date is probably a perfect route to take if you are looking to let yourself down.
“My resolutions usually involve eating healthier, losing weight, not procrastinating, or finding the right guy; basically so I can feel better about myself,” sophomore premedical student Elise Craig said. With a smile on her face she explained how her efforts to eat healthy usually end up devoured – by the end of January – along with all of the food in her kitchen. [rhi]
“When it comes to resolutions that have to do with dieting, losing weight and what not, many people can’t keep their resolutions,” Craig said. “It gets too hard and people fall back into their bad habits without enough will power.”
Using a chart to mark your success or journey as you progress through your resolution can help you stick to your plan and occasionally rewarding yourself along the way can keep you from going crazy. A reward like treating yourself to your favorite restaurant after being smoke-free for four weeks is a proactive way to help you keep you resolution longer.
“People keep their resolutions because they want to make a serious change in their life, a change that will make them more attractive or fix a habit they’ve always hated. It’s basically like trying to improve yourself and using a certain day to be the starting marker; a clean slate kind of thing,” Craig said.
While she hopes her resolutions last at least until May this year, Craig also added that not only is the new year a clean slate for people to start fresh, but it is a time for positive changes to be made in society. Her idea of a perfect nation-wide resolution?
“Never vote a Republican into office again.”