SALT LAKE CITY — Now that the first quarter of the year is over and the weather is warming up, some Utahns are assessing and renewing the resolutions they made three months ago.
According to a study by the University of Scranton and published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 45 percent of Americans usually make New Year's resolutions. Only 8 percent, however, successfully achieve their goals.
The top five New Year's resolutions for 2014 were to lose weight, get organized, spend less and save more, enjoy life to the fullest and stay fit and healthy.
As far as health and fitness goals go, many Utahns seem to have stayed committed so far. From January to March, the Gold's Gyms of Utah experienced only a 3.5 percent drop-off in visits, according to Kirk Livingstone, vice president of operations for Gold's Gym in Utah.
Livingstone said he was surprised the drop-off was so low, but glad to see people are really trying to lead healthy lifestyles.
"Utahns should be proud of themselves for being good at keeping their New Year's resolutions," he said.
More than 1,600 members of 24 Hour Fitness who responded to an online survey said they did make New Year's resolutions. So far, 89 percent say they've been sticking with their goals — 42 percent are "making consistent progress," 36 percent "haven't given up" and 11 percent are "making great progress."
Not everyone, however, makes New Year's resolutions. The study shows 38 percent of Americans never make them, and 17 percent do infrequently.
"I think it's harmful to pick an arbitrary annual time to obligate yourself to set goals," said Kristina Smith, a 20-year-old college student in Provo.
She said people are more likely to change when they do it on their own, not at a time designated for the whole world to do so.
"New Year's resolutions are impersonal and disposable," she said. "I think people get too used to making and abandoning them, so they rarely work for people long term."
Those struggling to keep their goals should remember failure is good and people need to stop saying they'll just try again next year, said Kory Kogon, the global productivity practice leader for Franklin Covey.
"We can always wait," Kogon said. "I think the best way to achieve a goal is today to admit it to yourself and say, 'Here's where I need to go today. ... I'm going to start today and I'm going to get clear what my motivation is.'"
Kogon said failure to keep resolutions is largely behind the motivation for making the goals. If people make goals because of New Year's pressure, they aren't likely to succeed because they don't have a deep motivation for change. However, the annual practice can be used to one's advantage if that motivation is already there.
"People really need to stop long enough and say, ‘What’s my motivation?’ and really get their brain tuned into why it’s important to them. If they don’t do that, it's not going to happen," Kogon said.
Once that motivation is there, people need to be "realistically optimistic" and break down their goals into baby steps. Kogon says this is necessary because the brain requires certainty and needs to know where it's going.
There's nothing simple about goal setting and changing behavior. She said it's important to understand it's going to be "really hard work," but it'll be worth it.
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