Why some New Year’s resolutions stick and others don’t

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By Photos public domain.com [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Making New Year’s resolutions is easy.

Keeping them is not.

For some, the goals are meaningful and realistic, but many others struggle to make the changes they want.

Starting 2018 off on the right foot has to do with getting in the right mindset, according to psychologist Dr. Bart Rossi.

“If you change how somebody thinks, you’ll change their behavior,” Rossi said.


The trick is to make resolutions that don’t require much willpower, Rossi believes.

“As a psychologist, I really don’t believe much in willpower,” he said. “I don’t think that’s the answer. I don’t think it’s about willpower and that’s why some people succeed and some don’t.”

Positive thinking and sensible behavior are more effective, in Rossi’s view.

Why do people break their resolutions?

Many people’s resolutions involve making a difference. But sometimes, the bar is too high.

research institute Statistic Brain ranked the top 10 New Year’s resolutions for 2017 and losing weight topped the list:

  1. Lose weight or healthier eating
  2. Life or self improvement
  3. Better financial decisions
  4. Quit smoking
  5. Do more exciting things
  6. Spend more time with family or close friends
  7. work out more often
  8. Learn something new on my own
  9. Do more good deeds for others
  10. Find the love of my life

It’s a common sight — gyms packed with unfamiliar faces on Jan. 2. But by February, the treadmills and elliptical machines are lonely.

Losing too much weight in too short a time isn’t worth aiming for, Rossi said.

“That’s not realistic. That’s not healthy,” he said. “That’s not gonna work. You’re gonna get frustrated.”

Initial results can be deceiving — 72.6 percent of people surveyed in 2017 kept their resolutions for the first week, according to Statistic Brain. The numbers slowly decline as the weeks and months go by. Six months into the year, only 44.8 percent stuck with it.

Who keeps New Year’s resolutions?

Certain strategies play a role in successful resolutions.

“I think the people who keep resolutions are people who are very ‘mindful’ — that’s a word used a lot today, mindfulness,” Rossi said. “They’re really very mindful of what they intend to do.”

Creating thoughtful habits and realistic “lifestyle changes” make a resolution a “good part of life, not a burden,” Rossi said.

“A lot of people have quit smoking, and they usually find out if they do it in a very deliberate, thoughtful manner.”

SWFL’s resolutions for 2018

WINK News posed a survey question asking how many New Year’s resolutions people plan to make:

While some in Southwest Florida are habitual resolution-makers, others, like Diana Rosenbaum, refuse to take part in the annual tradition.

“Never did, never will. Just seems waste of time,” Rosenbaum said.

Nationwide, 41 percent of Americans surveyed “usually make resolutions,” while 42 percent “absolutely never” do, according to Statistic Brain.

Some New Year’s resolutions deal with physical aspirations, while others focus more on mental health and interacting with others.

A question on the WINK News Facebook page asked viewers to name some of their resolutions.

“Stop stressing,” commenter Kim Taft wrote. “Enjoy every day like it’s my last!”

Others take a different approach, setting life goals dealing with family, moving or employment.

“To have a place to live with my baby boy and my Mom,” Erin Engels commented.

WINK News viewer Casper Gregory said he makes the same New Year’s resolution each year.

“Strive to learn something new daily and make the current year better than the last,” he wrote.

What is Rossi’s New Year’s resolution? It deals with physical health.

“I would like my New Year’s resolution to be to enhance that a little bit, and to do something every day that would be part of my routine every day, and make it a little bit better than what I’ve done,” Rossi said.

Southwest Florida residents have it easier than others when it comes to staying in shape, he believes.

“Make it fun down here especially — go walk on the beach,” Rossi said. “How hard could it be?”

But WINK News viewer Keith Johnson’s resolution is to leave Southwest Florida behind.

“Move to the Ozarks of Missouri to be closer to family,” Johnson wrote.


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