As calendars around the globe turned from 2019 to 2020, the owners of many of those calendars resolved to do better in the new year.
The New Year’s resolution is a long-time tradition, most commonly practiced in North America and Europe, in which a person commits to improving an aspect of life he or she might struggle with.
History shows the practice of New Year’s resolutions is deeply rooted in religion, with early civilians making promises to their gods at the start of a new year to return borrowed objects, repay debts, cleanse themselves spiritually or emotionally and to work, in general, toward self-improvement.
“I’m sure it might seem silly to some people, but I’ve always had some kind of resolution,” said community member Anna Landrum, 34. “When I was a teenager I always told myself I’d focus more on school, and when I got out of college I always told myself I’d be smarter with my money. The past few years I’ve just wanted to be a better person, so this year my resolution is to be nice to strangers, helpful to those around me and supportive of my friends and family.”
Hartselle resident Hayley Wallace has a similar resolution.
“My resolution is to just be a better person,” Wallace said. “This world is horrible, and I am usually a bitter person, but now that I have a baby, I want to be better for him.”
Modern resolutions tend to be more self-centered, with people resolving to focus on personal health, finances or nagging habits like smoking or drinking. While this seems simple in theory, results show that it’s anything but.
According to a 2018 study conducted by the University of Scranton, 8 percent of people achieve their New Year’s goals, while approximately 80 percent fail. An estimated 25 percent of people stick to their resolutions through the month of January, and 10-12 percent of people do not make a resolution at all.
“I think the safe bet is to come up with a resolution that is easily attainable,” Landrum said. “I know people who set crazy resolutions and become discouraged when they don’t see change right away. I think it should be a slow process. It’s a commitment to making your life better, not changing things overnight.”
A Harris Poll survey of approximately 2,200 U.S. adults 18 and older conducted in January 2019 showed that the majority of participants resolved to focus on eating healthier, 29 percent; saving more money, 25 percent; or losing weight, 24 percent.
Locals tend to fall in line with this survey, with the majority of those asked saying their resolutions center on health and fitness, dieting, financial management or personal growth.
“I want to find financial peace in 2020,” said Rebekah Martin, managing editor of the Enquirer.n“They don’t teach you how to be good with money in college, so I want to make huge strides toward being debt free this year.”
Mandi Youngblood, owner and manager of Hartselle Fitness Center, said she sees a large uptick in memberships and attendance in January.
“There is a remarkable difference in January versus any other month,” she said. “A lot of people also think the gym will clear out within a couple of months, but that’s not the case here. We usually stay full up until the summer.”
Youngblood said numbers nearly double this time of year.
“The attendance is up, and Mondays are the busiest,” she said. “We generally see an increase from 150-200 people per day to upward of 400 visitors per day. We also have families that will come in together and only scan once to get in, so those numbers might actually be a bit higher.”
Thoughts from the writer:
“I, personally, struggle with resolutions. I would love to set big goals for personal health or financial growth, but I know how easily those same resolutions have been neglected in the past. My goals for 2020 center on enjoying life experiences instead of worrying about the material things around me. I want to maximize the time I have with my friends and family and not stress out when I pull bills from the mailbox. I also need to stop chewing my fingernails, but I’ve been losing that battle for 20 years.
“So good luck to those who have set goals to better their own lives in 2020. We’re all in this together.” – Calvin Cooley