Resolute on Resolutions

With a new year, comes new hopes, dreams, and aspirations. Whether that be to run a marathon, complete that DIY project, or just better yourself as a person, America has always used the new year to make a new start. New Year's resolutions are an exciting opportunity to challenge ourselves on what we think we're capable of doing...that or they crash and burn within a week of trying. So how many of us succeed in staying resolute on our resolutions? How many of us make resolutions at all? We try and answer these questions and many more as we look into this beloved (or bemoaned) American tradition. 

the FALLACY of failure

According to a study conducted by the Statistic Brain Research Institute, 45 percent of Americans usually make New Year's Resolutions and only 8 percent actually achieve their resolutions. Disheartening as this may be, it may not be much of a surprise. The rhetoric used to making resolutions is often painted with a touch of sarcastic hopelessness as most people just hope to still be going to the gym after the first month. Still, we shouldn't be discouraged by these statistics however dismal they may appear, for this is not telling the whole story. 

Although only 8 percent succeed per yer,  49 percent of people who make resolutions achieve infrequent success from a year to year basis. That means that for those who try, they often do see the fruits of their labor in varying degrees of magnitude. So although you may not have run the marathon this year, you did however train for 4 months, run farther than you've ever run before, and increased your overall health, preparing you for next year's race. This is what the 8 percent does not take into account. Failure is a frequent occurrence in our lives and is only made more visible by New Year's resolutions. It's by learning how to move beyond the initial failure that we reach goals we would have never put down on paper to begin with. 

the bright side

When looking at the list of the top 10 New Years resolutions of last year provided by the Statistic Brain Institute, many familiar faces appear: #1 Lose Weight, #3 Spend Less, Save More, and #7 Quit Smoking. These prove to be no surprise as resolutions are often concerned with self-improvement in one form or another.

What's more interesting are the other resolutions that have nothing to do with the self or have no particular end goal: #4 Enjoy Life to the Fullest, #6 Learn Something Exciting, #8 Help Others in Their Dreams, and #10 Spend More Time with Family. Although these goals are not easily quantifiable, they do paint a radically different picture of America's hopes and dreams for the new year. There are less people dragging themselves to the gym and more people concerned with the people around them and the life in front of them than we realize. As a matter of fact, relationship related resolutions comprise 31 percent of the total number of resolutions made. A significant number that clearly demonstrates that our resolutions are made not just for ourselves. 

So even though America's yearly success rate may be only 8 percent and many of our resolutions dissolve before the year is done, it doesn't make the experience any less valuable or worthwhile for you or the people you've helped along the way. Continue to make those resolutions and continue to challenge yourself for hope that you will reap the rewards both personally and relationally.