New Year, New You

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Shed some pounds. Study harder. Overcome that crippling fear of spiders. New year’s resolutions are more than just little promises people make to themselves as they watch the ball descend in Time’s Square; they are goals, something to strive for and keep one motivated in the next year. But according to a recent survey conducted by the Saint Leo Polling Institute, many individuals won’t be making a resolution for 2017.

Only about 27 percent of 1,001 surveyed adults planned on actually making a resolution for the new year, the two most common resolutions being saving money and losing weight. Healthy habits, such as hitting the gym and drinking less alcohol, did not rank high in the poll. Almost 13 percent of those questioned said that they would join a gym in the upcoming year, while only eight percent said that they would limit their alcohol consumption.

“Honestly, I’m all good,” said new student Nicholas Falco, a sports business major. “I don’t need to make a New Year’s resolution now when I already have everything going for me.”

There are some factors that can contribute to a low number of resolution participants.

“I tend to think that (making) resolutions are not so much habitual acts of the mind, really, and certainly not New Year’s ones, but are instead rituals and traditions,” said Scot Hamilton, assistant professor of psychology. “Even for those ¼ that are engaging in them, the chances are that culture and people are suggesting resolutions, which is also suggesting the making of them, when you think about it.”

Hamilton also theorizes that many decided not to make a resolution because they are not “fun” to think about and because most individuals are just too busy preparing for a new semester to consider anything else.

“I haven’t made a resolution yet,” said Michael Hannigan, associate director of admissions. “The one I always try to make is the ‘eat healthier/work-out’ one. We’ll see how that goes.”

Hamilton also shared his idea as to why weight loss and frugality are the two most popular resolutions.  “Most of the respondents in the US, just by the fact of the portion size, type of foods, diets, and budgets we have, and by the data and demographics – might be in fact overweight or fat (to one degree or another). And living in, and ‘breathing’ a culture that meanwhile promotes or encourages or sort of privileges being fit and slim.  So it’s quite easy to see the ‘losing pounds’ thing to be a pre-occupation or at least something that quickly comes to mind when ‘resolutions’ are suggested.”

For college students, money isn’t easy to come by. Hamilton suspects that most students choose to save their funds for fun opportunities in order to maintain an active social life.

Hamilton offered some helpful tips to those struggling with the idea of making a New Year’s resolution.

“If you keep them low to begin with, they are easier to do and realize; and also if you don’t then happen to ‘keep them’ or ‘keep to them,’ I should say, there is less about which to beat yourself up about,” Hamilton stated. “Another good tip, and something that can be employed with this method is finding a buddy, who need not have the same resolution going on, but with whom you can share and co-encourage and check-in with.  Like forming a min-support group of two.”

Though resolutions were not popular at the start of the new year, members of the Saint Leo community will undoubtedly discover new ways to improve upon themselves as the spring semester gets underway.

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