New Year’s Resolutions


Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Photo credit: Kara Dickinson

Brilliant colors illuminated the black sky creating an iridescent glow over the silky, white sand and the depths of the sparkling Pacific Ocean as Kara Dickinson, a sophomore at Pioneer High School, said goodbye to the last few moments of 2014. The thunderous booms of fireworks erupted, at Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas, as the clock struck 12 and a new year had officially begun. Dickinson knew that 2015 would be a year to remember as she watched the fireworks shoot up above waves rolling onto the shore and the sparks descend into the water.

The excitement of the new year captivated Dickinson’s attention at midnight, but once she was back in Ann Arbor, the realization of what she wanted to accomplish during 2015 arose expeditiously. She knew exactly what her goal was for the new year. “My resolution is to focus more on school because this year I’ve been slacking slightly,” Dickinson said. She set this goal because her grades did not turn out the way she wanted them to this semester. While she is confident she will reach her goal, statistical evidence shows it may be more strenuous than she believes.

“Throughout 2007, we tracked over 3000 people attempting to achieve a range of resolutions, including losing weight, visiting the gym, quitting smoking, and drinking less,” said Richard Wiseman, head of Quirkology, a company that conducts scientific experiments based on everyday life. Quirkology’s study in 2007 found that 52 percent of the participants said that they would accomplish their resolution at the beginning of the year. Surprisingly, only 12 percent actually reached their goal by the end of the year. Adrian Huntley, a sophomore at Community High School, gives insight into why that might be.

Changing something significant about a person can be a challenge because finding the motivation to become successful, and not revert back to old habits, takes a little effort. Huntley is not confident that he will achieve his goal. “My New Year’s resolution is to get my drivers license,” Huntley said. “It’s been a while since I turned 16, but I’m still not close at all to getting my license.” Even though he’s been driving for many months, Huntley is not optimistic. “I probably won’t [achieve it],” he said. “I’ve been doing the learners permit thing for a while, but I’m not motivated to do any work.”

With a lack of incentive, accomplishing a resolution can be laborious and burdensome. Being committed to achieving a goal can be beneficial in the long run, even if it’s not an easy process. Once motivated to invest time and effort into an objective, the reward for the hard work will be easier to obtain.“They obviously picked the resolution for a reason,” Dickinson said. “If it’s staying in shape then they want a better body, or if it’s doing well in school then they want better grades. I think the motivation is the reward that comes out of following it.”

Charlotte running
Charlotte Ramser running in one of her cross country races in the fall of 2014.

Charlotte Ramser, a sophomore at Pioneer High school, plans on executing her goal and receiving the reward as an outcome of her hard work. “It would be nice if I could PR [break previous record] for cross country,” Ramser said. As a female cross country runner, breaking her record of running 3.125 miles in 22 minutes and two seconds will be a difficult task. Ramser is endeavoring to accomplish her goal by running and staying in shape all year long. When cross country season comes around in the fall of 2015, she will be prepared to surpass her previous record. Motivation is essential for Ramser to reach her goal.

On the contrary, the concept of New Year’s resolutions can be considered a waste of time and vitality. “I don’t have one [resolution],” said Nicole Kotov, a freshmen at Community High School. “I don’t really think they work.”

In Kotov’s perspective, there are many reasons why people never achieve their goals and resolutions. “It’s different for every person. Some people just don’t have the time and energy, and some don’t care,” Kotov said. She believes that goals are not always fulfilled because of the absence of devotion; hard work is requisite. “I think it’s important to have a goal,” she said. “But you have to try if you really want it.”

Huntley agrees with Kotov’s opinion. “I don’t think [resolutions] motivate me to do anything at all,” Huntley said. “I don’t think anyone can [achieve their resolution] because people always set the best case scenario for themselves, but no one really reaches that goal…It’s hard doing work, and people don’t want to do more work.”

A new year allows people to have a fresh start and set goals for them to pursue for the rest of the year. “I think New Year’s resolutions and goals are things that people have throughout the year, but are kind of pin-pointed on New Year’s and then categorized as resolutions,” Dickinson said. The thrill of a new-found year may bring courage to try and achieve new things, and also resolve issues from the previous year. Setting goals is like dipping a toe into water to test out the temperature: trying new things. Once the temperature is evaluated, it creates a ripple effect with the water. It may start small but the ripples grow larger, expanding past the horizon.

If change is so onerous, why do people bother to try? How do they find the stamina to achieve their goals? “Social standards, personal standards, family standards,” Kotov said. People retain the passion to accomplish goals so that they can improve themselves.

Self-improvement is an immense motivator. “They’re important because everyone needs something to work towards,” Dickinson said. “If we didn’t have any goals then we’d just be sitting here like…that’s it.” The larger the boost of change and progress a person makes, the more confidence they acquire in the process.

Patience and passion: that’s the secret to achieving New Year’s resolutions. Not giving up right away, not being afraid of change and allowing more time to carry out a goal can be the difference between reaching one and pushing one aside. Setting a realistic goal and not making too many significant changes at once can transform a dream into a reality. “My advice is to, even though it’s hard, keep up with it,” Dickinson said. “It might not work right away, or maybe within that year, but if you keep working at it eventually it’ll pay off or at least to an extent.”