They say it takes 21 days of doing something every single day to make it a habit. That’s science. I don’t know what the statistic is on how short a time you need to break that habit, but I think I could probably break a good habit in like, oh, a weekend.

I’m interested in having good habits. They just take time and effort and energy…and being single, with no kids, not even a pet fish, and working a job with summers and holidays off (score one for teaching!), I technically have lots of time and effort and energy. How I apply this…well…it comes and goes in waves. But this year I wanted to be different. Is it turning 27? Is it getting bored in my job? Is it all the weddings I’m going to go to with lots of people I haven’t seen from high school that inspires me? I don’t know. But I decided to set a few goals. Resolutions. And if we’re going to be honest, I didn’t really think I’d keep them anyway, so I didn’t see the harm.

When was the last time you kept a New Year’s Resolution? I can’t remember…I can only keep ones I make like “take naps on weekends” and “read a book.” I’ve never kept the “work out” “lose weight” “rid self of debt” kind of resolutions. I’m 19 days into this twenty11 “postaday2011” WordPress.com challenge business, and I have resolved to write something every day. A blog, a Yelp review (my new addiction), a haiku, a song. I didn’t promise it to be meaningful or entertaining, just something. You only get better by practicing things, and I really want to be the best writer I can be, so I resolved to practice at least 365.25 days this year.

I thought I would have quit like….a week into it. But I’m still doing it. I think its become habit. The resolving has worked. I got to thinking about all the silly things we promise ourselves to do every year to make our lives better, the goals that we make around January 1st, the magical day we think holds the key to keeping ourselves accountable and focused. I googled some stats about resolutions:

  • 45% of Americans usually set New Year’s Resolutions; 17% infrequently set resolutions; 38% absolutely never set resolutions.
  • Only 8% of people are always successful in achieving their resolutions. 19% achieve their resolutions every other year.  49% have infrequent success.  24% (one in four people) NEVER succeed and have failed on every resolution every year. That means that 3 out of 4 people almost never succeed.
  • Of those who do set resolutions (these add to more than 100% because some people set multiple resolutions):
    • 34% set resolutions related to money
    • 38% set resolutions related to weight
    • 47% set resolutions related to self-improvement or education
    • 31% set resolutions related to relationships

Its interesting…only 8% of us actually lose the weight, cut up the credit cards, take a college course, or fall in love in a given year. That sounds like we would have a whole lot of unhappy, anti-resolution-setting Americans on our hands. But we don’t, really.

I think more than just failing to achieve our resolutions, we forget about them. All of a sudden its Valentine’s Day, and we’re either unhappy because we’re single, happy because we’re with someone new, disappointed by the person we’re with, wishing we were with someone else, or happy to be single to not have to deal with the bs of V-day. Or you could be the annoying margin of people who have a great time on that day.

Then its Mardi Gras, St. Patricks Day, Easter, all kinds of things in May, then summer, then fall starts up and its the holidays, and we start saying things like “oh, well I’ll change that about myself next year, no point in giving up carbs and spending money when Christmas is so close!”

Well…I’m 5% of the way through the year…and have written every day. Two more days and I guess its a cemented habit…we’ll see. We shall see.

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