If you made a New Year’s Resolution, you aren’t alone — at least according to the University of Scranton, Journal of Clinical Psychology, which reports that 45 percent of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions while an additional 17 percent occasionally make them (as opposed to 38 percent who claim they absolutely never make New Year’s Resolutions.
The Journal also broke down the Top 10 resolutions for 2014 and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that topping the list is “losing weight,” especially in the wake of Halloween candy, Thanksgiving feasts, Christmas dinners and New Year’s Eve festivities.
Rounding out the top five were, in order: getting organized, spending less – saving more, enjoying life to the fullest, staying fit and healthy. The remaining five were, in order: learn something exciting, quit smoking, help others in their dreams, fall in love, and spending more time with family.
When the fitness center at Southern High School was open, it was pretty common to see a large crowd of people there after the beginning of the year. Usually the crowd had thinned out by Groundhog Day and by Valentine’s Day it seemed like it was back to the “usual” crowd.
Me? I didn’t make a resolution, but with that being said I do appreciate the ending of one year and the beginning of another as a chance to reflect upon the past year, measure its successes and failures, and look for ways to improve for the coming year. I guess one could make the argument that is in itself a resolution.
For me, losing that “winter coat” is an annual event; hardly worthy of something as dignified as a resolution. It’s just something I have to do. However if I were going to make a resolution for this upcoming trip around the sun I would want it to be something worthwhile, like trying to love people a little more, and judge them a little less.
On the other hand, if you haven’t already made your resolution, let me throw out a few suggestions:
Do it now! Resolve to donate to a local charity or animal shelter, and just do it! Write a check and mail it - resolution kept!
For self-improvement resolutions, commit yourself: sign up for that once-in-a-lifetime hunt or register for that big race. There’s nothing like picking a date, buying a license, and sending in a deposit or registration fee to force yourself to get into shape and lose that weight.
Don’t set yourself up for failure, chances are pretty good you aren’t going to turn your life around, but it would be nice if you could laugh just a little more, or spend an extra afternoon or two with the grandchildren jerking bluegills out of an old farm pond. Certainly that is something almost anyone can do.
Furthermore, be realistic, you can’t resolve to win the lottery but you can be like that little kid on the commercial and resolve to eat more jellybeans this year.
Make a difference in your own community; help clean things up. Even if you only pick up one bag of litter, you have done at least that much to beautify your environment.
Know your limitations. At the risk of being accused of encouraging people to dream small and aim low, I would suggest that a series of small, attainable goals will accomplish far more than one unreachable goal. It’s all good to shoot for the stars, but know that few people ever attain them.
Finally, don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t keep your resolution. If it helps you feel any better about it, the Journal also reported that 25 percent of people broke their resolutions in the first week, and only eight percent of people reported successfully keeping their New Year’s Resolutions.
So whatever you do, good luck and try to include the great outdoors in your plans – and if you get the chance, try to get some youngsters involved as well.
Jim Freeman is wildlife specialist for the Meigs Soil and Water Conservation District and a long-time contributor to the Sunday Times-Sentinel. He can be contacted weekdays at (740) 992-4282 or at firstname.lastname@example.org