Promises, promises

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Are New Year's resolutions made to be broken?

By Lisa King

New Year's Day is sort of like a Monday.

A new year has many things in common with a new week. People vow they won't overeat, they will exercise, they will quit smoking, and so on.

But now we’re a week into the new year. Have you kept your resolutions? Can you expect them to be kept for the rest of the year?

Peggy Tschauner, owner and master physical trainer at Fit for Life on Alpine Drive, said that the average person keeps a New Year's resolution for about a month and a half.

“Research has shown that 47 days is the average time that people keep a resolution before they just let it go,” she said.

Actually FranklinCovey, a global retailer, has measured New Year’s resolutions for four years. And its research shows that 75 percent of people will break their resolutions within three months and one-third will break them by the end of January.

So we asked people to share their New Year's resolutions, and there was a lot of variety in their answers.

Shawn Willard, a realtor/auctioneer with H. Barry Smith Co., said his goal for this year is to always remember that “the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

Willard said he got that saying from his high school principal, Walter Hawkins, who used to end every day by leaving students with that phrase on the intercom.

“It just makes everything simple,” he said.


Gary Walls said his resolution is twofold.

“My primary goal is to quit smoking, and my secondary goal is to join a gym and work out three times a week,” he said.

Tschauner said her resolution is to round out her life more.

“I want to work on better balance in my life, nurturing my spiritual side more, take time for peace, quiet and play,” she said.

Sheila Fawbush at Shelby County Extension Office, said her two resolutions are to spend more time with family and friends and to visit two national parks that she has not yet visited.

Ruby Lewis, a Shelby Countian who is currently on tour with the Broadway musical, “Grease,” said, “My New Year's Resolution is to start a journal and write in it every day. I need to start documenting what's going on,” she said. “I know that when I'm older and settled these will be my glory days.”

FranklinCovey polled 527 customers and created this top 10 list of resolutions for 2009.

  1. Get out of debt or save money
  2. Lose weight
  3. Develop a healthy habit, such as healthy eating or exercising
  4. Get organized
  5. Spend more time with family and friends
  6. Develop a new talent or skill
  7. Work less, play more
  8. Other
  9. Break an unhealthy habit, such as smoking, alcohol or overeating
  10. Change employment

Owner Stephen Covey's advice for keeping a resolution is to choose only one or two things to do that would significantly increase one's happiness. Also, be specific. Instead of resolving just to save money in the future, set a resolution to save a certain amount of money each week or month.

Visualizing success helps, too. Imagine what it will be like to achieve your New Year's resolution. How would your life be different?

As far as fitness is concerned, Tschauner said the reason why most people don't keep their resolutions is because they set unrealistic goals for themselves, and when they fall short, they get discouraged.

“They think they're going to lose 50 pounds in January, and of course, they won't,” she said. “When they don't see progress right away, they quit.”

Her advice is to make exercise a habit.

“Put it into your schedule,” she said. “Make it a normal part of your day.”

Tschauner said at Fit for Life, her personal trainers talk to people about their fitness goals to help them set realistic expectations. One thing she is excited about is a brand new type of exercise that she plans to launch this Saturday called TRX Suspension Training.

“It's very cutting edge, we're the only ones in Shelby County using it,” she said. “It's used very heavily in the military because it's so portable, she said. “I hope people will come and check it out for themselves.”