Keshin Visahan (10) was like any other person on New Year’s Eve. He made a simple resolution — to “spend more time studying” — and planned to generally improve himself in the upcoming year.
“I’m going to time myself when I’m studying and just make sure I’m not getting distracted,” Visahan said.
Forty percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, most commonly to lose weight, get organized and spend less money, according to Forbes.
“People start the New Year [with resolutions] because it’s this new beginning, clean slate kind of experience with their hopes and wants and wishes,” San Diego psychologist Marjorie Miller said. “That’s sort of a common psychological process at the beginning of any new phase.”
Yet, when it comes to actually delivering on those resolutions, Visahan is a part of the minority.
“I’ve made New Year’s resolutions before,” Visahan said. “They were kind of just little things, but I did follow through with them.”
According to Forbes, only eight percent of Americans actually meet their New Year’s goals.
Miller attributes the inability to carry out New Year’s resolutions to harsh self-judgment about difficulty maintaining consistency as well as unrealistic and “lofty” goals such as to “lose 20 pounds” and “go to the gym five times a week.”
“There’s something sort of perfectionistic and pressured about some of these resolutions,” Miller said. “But when you disappoint yourself or make a mistake, people…will say, ‘Why bother? I’m a failure anyway,’ and they just give up.”
Visahan thinks most people are unable to live up to their resolutions because they only make them to follow media and social trends.
“The people who give up on their New Year’s resolutions are just doing it to go with the flow,” Visahan said. “The people who follow through with them have already planned before in the years.”
Solana Beach 24-Hour Fitness manager Lauren Fellows also believes that self-improvement motivations stem from pop culture influences.
“Around New Year’s, you’re coming out of the holidays, we’ve all been indulging, so now it’s time to start the new year off on the right foot,” Fellows said. “Society and culture all kind of play into that … so that’s when you hear people talk about, ‘Okay, it’s time to start getting in shape for the summer.’”
Miller also thinks that the popular media impacts self-image, mostly negatively.
“The media saturation is constantly bombarding people with this idea that they should be a certain way,” Miller said. “The [popular] media, as well as social media, really pull [people] to look their best, to be cool and clever and together. So it makes a lot of sense that people think about New Year’s resolutions like that.”
However, not all people make “the standard” resolutions. Besides getting straight A’s by the end of the school year, Santino Mattia (10) has goals to “make the TPHS varsity basketball team” and “be a better person overall.”
“I can be nice and polite, and I could also spend quality time with my friends, not lie, do my homework, go to school on time and also be more sociable and go out to meet more people,” Mattia said.
Both Visahan and Mattia think that, to accomplish New Year’s resolutions, a certain level of determination is necessary.
“Just stay motivated and take it seriously,” Visahan said. “It’s important to let people know that you’re going to do it because then they encourage you.”
Fellows agrees that feeling accountable for something helps one achieve goals. However, she also believes that persistence is a driving factor.
“Consistency is the main thing for people,” Fellows said. “So keeping them consistent on a program and motivated and excited and feeling accountable really is the difference between people staying [with their resolutions] and not.”
Miller believes setting goals is an innate human tendency.
“Just as human beings, we’re drawn to growth and improvement in a very natural way,” Miller said. “We want to evolve and grow and be our best selves.”
Starting off a new year with resolutions may not necessarily mean achieving them, but it is still symbolic of a new commitment to improvement for many people, according to Fellows.
Mattia is one of the many people who experience the importance of a fresh start.
“So many things are becoming new in this world, and it just seems like … everything can go right.” Mattia said.
Despite the low success rate of sticking with New Year’s resolutions, people still find time in busy and hectic schedules to make commitments in their lives. Whether it be regularly studying or interacting with people more, resolutions are a promising and hopeful start to a new year.