‘Progress, not perfection’: how to keep New Year’s resolutions

Published 2:21 pm Monday, January 1, 2024

By Jack Dobbs, Bowling Green Daily News

Sarah Widener, the director of Community Wellness for the Medical Center Health and Wellness Center, said New Year’s resolutions are made because people see the start of a new year as a way to have a “fresh start.”

“New Year’s specifically, it’s like Mondays,” Widener said. “(People) are really thinking about those things at that time.”

According to the Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business, only 9% of Americans who create a New Year’s resolution will keep it, with 43% quitting the resolution by the end of January.

A survey from mental health organization Tracking Happiness found the hardest resolution to keep is sobriety, with only a 33% success rate. Other difficult resolutions include giving up smoking along with dietary resolutions, such as exercise.

Widener said resolutions are broken so often because people are sometimes “overzealous” in their resolution-making.

“It’s like horses coming out of the gate,” Widener said. “You have all this energy and by the time you finish the first lap, you’re done.”

For resolutions such as giving up smoking, Widener said the Health and Wellness Center provides resources to help people see them through, with a program dedicated to helping people quit.

“People have to try five, six, seven, eight times before they’re actually successful,” Widener said. “Sometimes that’s triggered by a pregnancy or a health diagnosis that scares them into ‘OK, I really have to quit this.’ ”

Widener discourages people from setting weight loss resolutions, since weight loss is not something someone has complete control over. Rather, she encourages people to keep a resolution simple and only set one or two small goals.

“Make sure (a resolution) is part of your schedule,” Widener said. “If it’s ‘I want to get in shape,’ when are those workouts scheduled?”

Widener said ultimately a resolution is a process that someone goes through to better themselves.

“It’s progress, not perfection,” she said. “You’re going to take two steps forward and sometimes three steps back before you hit that goal.”