Be Resolute

There are two things that rank high on my list of things I dread about the holidays.

One is dragging that bare, parched tree out of the house as it leaves a massive amount of pine needles in its wake, and simultaneously watching my children’s sad little faces as they watch Christmas disappear from the living room.

The second thing is New Year’s and it’s not the parties, the champagne, noisemakers or even feeling obligated to stay up until midnight that gets me. It’s the “changing my life” thing that is the problem – those New Year’s resolutions I feel obligated to make…but rarely (OK, never) keep.

My list usually goes something like this: Don’t procrastinate, be more patient with the kids, be better with money, stop using salt…It can go on and on and some years can be longer than a child’s list to Santa.

I’m apparently not alone. According to a study that appeared in the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45 percent of people typically make New Year’s resolutions, yet a mere 8 percent are successful.


But don’t throw all those resolutions out the window yet. It also says, “People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.”

That’s encouraging, especially if you are under 30. Your chances of keeping your New Year’s promises are apparently better if you are in your 20s. If you are, your chances of success jump to 39 percent. People over 50 only have a meager 14 percent chance.

At 44, I guess I fall somewhere in the middle.

If you do stick with your resolutions the first week of January, you’re not out of the woods. Not yet.

Three quarters of people maintain their resolutions through this period. That drops to 64 percent after a month and then, well, you get the picture.

Some of the most common New Year’s resolutions? The study says losing weight tops the list when the first of the year rolls around. It’s followed closely by getting organized, spending less, enjoying life to the fullest, learning something new and quitting smoking. I’m not sure how you can have any control over a resolution to fall in love, but that’s at the top of the list, too.  

There are a few reasons experts cite for failed resolutions. Two-time best-selling author and human behavior coach Beverly D. Flaxington writes in Psychology Today about five common roadblocks to following through with your New Year’s promises. These include making unrealistic resolutions or resolutions that are not properly defined, not being of the right mindset, lack of time management skills or living distracted.

Flaxington is the creator of the SHIFT Model, which she writes can be applied to resolutions. SHIFT includes Specifying the desired outcome, Highlighting and categorizing obstacles, Identifying the human factor, Finding the alternate and Taking disciplinary action.

So maybe that’s it. I’m not going about it right and my resolutions are just a bit vague. And I’m a writer, so limited time management skills and distracted living just seem to come with the territory.  And most days, I never feel like I am in the right mindset.

I think my resolution this year will be to apply the SHIFT Model to my list of resolutions. And I won’t wait until midnight on New Year’s night to bring out the pencil and paper.


Whatever your New Year’s resolutions happen to be this year, we at My Outer Banks Home wish you the best of luck and the happiest of new years. ♦

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