If you're trying to pay down your credit cards, quit smoking, get a new job,
find a mate, or shed some excess poundage, abandoning New Year's resolutions
won't get you off the hook.
But by setting more realistic goals for yourself and not limiting yourself
to a once-a-year, do-or-die, all-out assault on that Everest of debt, those
flabby thighs, or the hideous wallpaper you keep meaning to replace, you may
find that the finish line isn't so far away after all.
Or as the Rolling Stones put it, "you can't always get what you want,
but if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need."
Popular New Year's Resolutions
According to USA.gov, the nation's official Web portal, Americans commonly
resolve every January to:
The Web site doesn't cite the sources for these popular New Year's
resolutions, nor do they offer statistics on how often they are broken. But as
the poet Robert Burns, author of "Auld Lang Syne," famously observed,
"The best laid plans o' mice and men [often go astray]."
"The cycle is deprive yourself, and then binge and make up for it,"
says Elizabeth Zelvin, LCSW, an online therapist who helps people with eating
"New Years after New Years, millions of Americans make a resolution to
go on a diet, and a diet is a way of
eating that feels so depriving that you can hardly wait to get to the end of it
so you can go back to doing what you did before," she tells WebMD.
Some resolution-makers last a week keeping their New Year's resolutions, and
some stick it out all the way to Feb. 1, but very few manage to achieve their
goal weight, Zelvin says.
As a therapist, Zelvin also deals with people who have substance abuse
problems, and she says that the principles of 12-step programs are practical
and effective guides to living, especially with their emphasis on setting
"'One day at a time' is the antithesis of making New Year's
resolutions," she says. "It's not saying, 'I'm going to do this and
keep it up all year,' it's saying, 'What can I do today?'"
The Hardest Thing You Ever Do?
Darin P. St. George, a personal trainer who works under the pseudonym
Trainer X at Gold's Gym in Natick, Mass., suggests that New Year's resolutions
are as fleeting as the rose petals littering the streets of Pasadena after the
Rose Bowl parade has gone by.