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The Marriage Wars: Do New Year’s resolutions even work?
Jan 08, 2012 | 1132 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Dawn: My resolution this year is to stop making fun of people who consistently make futile New Year’s resolutions – and like most resolutions, I’m already breaking it.

The best example of resolution-breaking is the gym. The first few weeks will be crowded with men and women beaming at their hope of shedding pounds and acquiring a fit lifestyle.

By February, the gym will be back to normal, with the drop-outs blaring anthems of excuses: “It’s just too difficult to find the time”…”I have to make time for my family, you know”… “My work schedule interfered”… “I couldn’t afford the cost of the gym membership” … and the ever-popular “I can’t take the time every single day, but I’m planning on eating better and work on fitness with the weather improves.”

If women are more prone than men to make New Year’s resolutions, it’s only natural that women would see a greater failure rate. It’s not a problem of gender; the problem is that resolutions tend to be more theatrical than practical.

One woman, for instance, told me she resolved to be a “better person.” What does that mean? She needs an action plan, not a high-minded promise.

She should forget the resolution and say, “Every Wednesday, I will refrain from buying a latte at Starbucks and I will put my $4.32 into a jar. At the end of the year I will donate all the money in the jar to Quarters for Christmas.”

But that doesn’t happen. People typically resist change. They want to lose weight, but they don’t want to walk past the chocolate brownie.

They want to increase their financial health, but they cannot sacrifice every month to fuel a Roth IRA. They want to become more physically active, but gee, there’s a great new video game and RC Willey has a great deal on a plush sofa.

The reality is that “New Year” is not really new. It is simply an extension of a life, which will not change dramatically until we do away with silly resolutions and focus on “tough love” commitment.

Mark: It hasn’t been proven that women are more likely to make resolutions for the New Year, but we shouldn’t be surprised if that were the case.

Take a look at women’s magazine covers. Year round you can find covers splashed with ideas to “get a bikini body by summer,” or “10 ways to improve your love life.”

Even women without an inborn tendency to strive for perfection are susceptible to the constant bombardment to set and work toward goals, and the New Year is a perfect time to leave those bad habits behind.

Studies have shown that most resolutions last until the ground hog peaks out to see his shadow, but that shouldn’t stop us from optimistically setting on a path for personal improvement.

No matter if we are doomed to fail, when we stop trying to get better we might as well pack it in, put on our sweats, and watch “Hoarder” marathons on TLC.

Maybe this scenario isn’t distasteful to the average man who can sit near-motionless for a three-hour NFL game, but the women I know are more like sharks – we have to keep moving to stay alive, even if that means dusting around our husbands inert body in the lazy boy.

So what are your resolutions for 2012? There have been a plethora of suggestions in the year-end newspapers; ideas for goal setting and ideas on how to succeed.

It’s all highly personal and unless you want to either A) be held to it or B) mocked if you fail – most of us will keep the resolutions to ourselves.

I’m going to go out on a limb and confess mine. Last year I read 75 books, not all of them good. In 2012, I’m going for quality, not quantity.

If I find a book poorly written, uninteresting, or distasteful after 50 pages I’m going to set it aside.

Maybe this is more an indication of recognizing my mortality (so many books, so little time), but I would prefer to think that I’m going to be more selective. I’m going to read “smarter” in 2012 and the best thing about it is that no one but me will know if I am successful.

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