Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Many people make them, some making them without any intention of keeping them. Some make them, hoping to keep them. Making a New Year’s resolution has become a time-honored tradition.
According to a Rasmussen Reports telephone survey released on New Year’s Day 2009, 52% of those surveyed said they will not be making a resolution for New Year’s. However, of the 43% who say they will make a resolution, 42% of that number believe they are very likely to keep it. Another 47 % say they are somewhat likely to keep it.
That leaves 11% who are unsure or know they will not keep their resolutions, once made.
Two years ago, another survey by Rasmussen Reports found 42% were making resolutions and 52% of those felt they were very likely to keep them. That is a 10% drop in likelihood — in commitment.
Which might bring one to ask: Why make a resolution if one is even slightly unsure of whether or not one is going to keep it? The slightly unsure to the unsure to the convinced that they will not keep their resolutions comprises 58% of resolution-makers.
Again, why make them?
Some people make resolutions as a lark or as a gentle suggestion to themselves. These resolutions would be the “be nicer to my co-workers”, “lose weight” and “cut back on my candy intake” resolutions.
Some make resolutions to bolster the resolve to do things that have become necessary in their lives. These are the “watch my diet (for health reasons)” and “find a better paying job” resolutions.
Some are to push dreams in the right direction. Resolutions like these are the “write a novel” or “finish that writing project” and the “go back to college” resolutions.
But what is the difference? Why should one New Year’s resolution be any different than the next? Aren’t they simply vocal or written affirmations of aspects of our lives we wish to alter?
Of course they are. And the difference lies in the conviction with which an individual makes a resolution. When someone makes a half joking resolution to “stop eating cookies” or “stop yelling at my television during Dallas Cowboys games,” it is an indication that that individual may think there is room for improvement but whether they follow through or not is not of life-changing importance.
But when the level of conviction rises, when an individual decides that joining a gym, or finding a workable diet, or fulfilling a dream is of vital importance to them, then that individual is more likely to keep their resolution. And it does not matter where the source of that conviction comes from, because, in the end, the resolution is indifferent. The individual involved, the person who made the resolution, is not. Following through on a resolution demands commitment. The level of commitment involved, fueled by the conviction of the true necessity of keeping the resolution, are direct indicators of whether or not the individual will actually follow through and fulfill what was resolved.
Does that mean that Americans are lacking in commitment? Lacking in conviction? Have little resolve?
That more than half of those that are making New Year’s resolutions admit that they have some level of uncertainty as to whether or not they will keep those resolutions seems indicative of an overall population that does not take the practice seriously.
Of course, it may simply be in keeping with the practical adage to not make promises one does not intend to keep. Even to oneself.