Jeremy Muskat no longer thinks about New Year’s resolutions.
His last resolution to spend more time with his girlfriend
turned out to be more thought than action.
“I thought about it for an hour and then I stopped,” said
Muskat, a graduate student studying mathematics. “I guess we might
still be together if I’d stayed with it.”
Muskat is not alone. Eighty-eight percent of Americans make at
least one New Year’s resolution and 80 percent of these people fail
to maintain their yearly goal, according to a 2001 General
Nutrition Centers poll.
Despite the statistics, there are steps that lead to becoming
one of the 20 percent of people who keep their New Year’s
resolutions, said Deb Morris, a health educator at Hartshorn Health
“Be realistic,” Morris said. “Baby steps are a good way to start
resolutions, rather than all-or-nothing goals.”
Although Meghan Comer, a sophomore sociology major, does not
make a New Year’s resolution, she agrees that in order to keep any
goal one must be practical.
“Go for something you really want and try to stick with your
goal,” Comer said. “Don’t overdo it; try to have one main goal to
focus on and a few other goals to strive for.”
Morris also suggests reaching out to others to make goals more
concrete and attainable.
“You have to find support; it helps if people know what you are
trying to achieve,” Morris said. “It also helps to find people with
similar goals that can work with you.”
Erin Hottenstein, the mentor of Fort Collins “Power of Purpose,”
which aims to help people reap maximum benefit from their lives by
achieving their goals, believes that before support can be achieved
people need to be accountable for their goals.
“There are a variety of reasons why people don’t reach their
goals,” Hottenstein said. “Before people jump into their resolution
they need to break their goals down into smaller goals so they gear
up for what achieving the goal is going to take.”
Megan Menchen, a freshman zoology major, said that achieving her
New Year’s resolutions is not only a yearly routine, but also an
ambition to prove her personal drive.
“I give myself a goal to look forward to,” Menchen said. “Most
people do let their resolutions down, but I feel like I’d let
myself down if I didn’t do it. The guilt I would feel if I didn’t
keep my resolution keeps me going.”
Menchen said she finds it easy to keep her resolutions because
she sets goals that she really wants to achieve.
“My resolution for 2003 was to make friends at college, so when
I moved into the dorms I popped my head into everyone’s room, and I
joined a sorority,” Menchen said.
Despite Menchen’s drive to complete her New Year’s resolutions,
Ben Brown, a sophomore consumer and family studies major, not only
refuses to make the yearly goals, but he also regards them as bad
“New Year’s resolutions are a weak foundation to give something
up,” Brown said. “I feel that it is kind of superficial because
people do it just because everyone else does. That’s why it never
Brown concedes that the new year is a good time to reflect, but
he said resolutions should not only be made on the first of the
year and that goals are only attainable if people make them on
their own accord.
“Don’t make decisions based on what you are going to tell others
and don’t give something up just because it is a new year,” Brown
said. “Be concrete in your decision and in why you want to change
Regardless of the occasion for setting a goal, Hottenstein said
that while support and specificity are important for success, it is
most important to understand the magnitude of each goal before
“You need to troubleshoot and figure out what might come up to
get in the way of your goal,” Hottenstein said. “Ask yourself:
‘What can I do instead of that?’ because everybody is going to have
urges and you need to figure out what you are going to do when you
get that urge.”