LAURINBURG — As holiday festivities give way to winter doldrums, the new year dawns and brings to many a renewed interest in self-improvement.
But as studies show, and gym owners attest, those New Year’s resolutions rarely last longer than a paper party hat before sliding off like the Time’s Square Ball.
According to a study published this year by the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, of the people who make resolutions, about 46 percent break them by June, and only about 8 percent ultimately achieve their goal.
Despite the discouraging statistic, people everywhere continue to set such goals come Jan. 1. According to the same University of Scranton study, about 45 percent of Americans regularly make New Year’s resolutions.
One of the top 10 resolutions, according to the Ohio college, is weight loss. But according to Laurinburg Zumba instructor Michelle Williams of Integrity Fit, exercise is a hard habit to start.
“Maybe 10 percent of them stick with it,” Williams said, noting that she sees fewer new participants in the cold seasons.
“At Thanksgiving and Christmas they want to pig out and eat what they want to eat and they don’t stay committed. They’re not as committed to exercising and dieting as they are in the hot season.”
As permanent weight loss is more easily achieved through a lifestyle change rather than a one-time resolution, those who hit the gym the first week in January often find themselves returning year after year to renew that abandoned membership.
“They lose 5, 10, 15 pounds and when they start to get to their goals they start falling off a little bit,” said Williams.
Other popular resolutions include: get organized; spend less, save more; enjoy life to the fullest; staying fit and healthy; learn something exciting; quit smoking; help others in their dreams; fall in love; and spend more time with family.
New Year’s resolutions usually fall into four categories: self improvement or education, weight, money and relationships. Millennials are more likely to keep their resolutions than older Americans. About 39 percent of people in their 20s are successful compared with 14 percent of people age 50 and older.
The top resolutions identified by the University of Scranton study are in line with what Kim Pevia, a certified life coach, sees while helping clients achieve their personal goals, especially around New Year’s.
Pevia says the way we frame our resolutions has a lot to do with how achievable they are. She suggests tying a resolution to the reason why you set it in the first place.
“If your resolution is to spend more time at home, then why? Is it to develop deeper relationships with your children? Is it to save money on the babysitter? Is it to read to them nightly? What is your why? Your why will pull you closer to your goal than just the goal alone,” she said.
Resolutions are also more achievable when broken down into “smaller more manageable pieces that can become habits,” Pevia says, like planning ahead to leave the office early a few times a week in order to be home with family.
Pevia says many people abandon their resolutions because they feel they are bound to fail. Instead, she recommends focusing on making progress and remembering that personal growth may not happen — and doesn’t need to happen — within a calendar year.
“Change is not always a light switch but often rather a series of small incremental steps that can take root over time,” she says.
As for Pevia, she plans to reach outside her comfort zone in 2016.
“My why is because I want to see what else is possible. My how — in the prescription of Eleanor Roosevelt — to do at least one thing each day that scares me and to say ‘yes’ more,” she said.