Of all the resolutions Americans make with the turn of the calendar — to shed some pounds, kick a tobacco habit, or simply to live life to the fullest — a study suggests that not one person in 10 will stick to such promises for the full year.
But such a dismal success rate did little to discourage a variety of Napa residents and visitors, whose optimism about self-improvement was mostly as bright as the Wednesday morning sun.
“Mine’s to get out and walk more,” Shelly Maples of Napa said while doing just that, trotting briskly from her home down First Street toward an errand at City Hall. But her list of self-improvements for 2013 didn’t end there.
“I’m also staying out of people’s business; if it doesn’t concern me that I won’t get involved in that drama,” she added between her puffing. “Also, live healthier — and find a good man.”
Such hopefulness flies in the face of the results from various surveys about Americans’ most popular New Year’s resolutions, and the likelihood of staying a new course for 12 months.
An annual survey, published in mid-December by the University of Scranton (Pa.) Journal of Clinical Psychology, indicated that only 8 percent of participants believed they had kept their 2012 resolutions, and that 24 percent admitted to never sticking to a New Year’s promise for a whole year.
Nonetheless, 62 percent of those the school surveyed reported making resolutions frequently or occasionally. The most popular promise was to lose weight, followed by getting organized, saving more and spending less, enjoying life to the full, and improving fitness. (Quitting smoking placed seventh and spending more time with the family 10th.)
“Mine’s what everyone else’s is — to lose weight,” said Kathy Schulmeyer of Vallejo. “I don’t usually do resolutions, but I said to myself I’d do this now, see if I can keep up with it.”
Another woman with an eye on the scale was Constance Williams, a Yountville resident who joined a Weight Watchers program and promised to stay with it throughout 2013, “or at least until I reach my goal,” she said.
Asked if she had seen this or other resolutions through 12 months, Williams simply laughed — but quickly added, “This is gonna be the year, because I really think it’s the right program for me now.”
Other resolutions were simply to stick to schedules, in business and in life.
With the new year arrived another goal for Cyrus Shahin: open a third rug shop to join his existing ones in Napa and Milwaukee.
“I usually plan ahead with dates and try my best to keep it up,” said Shahin, who opened the Shahin Rug Gallery on Second Street three months ago. “There was a resolution that when I turned 55 I would move from Wisconsin to California, and so I did.
“Resolutions are good because they give you a reason to do something about it, instead of just doing it ‘someday.’ If I say that I’ll do something that year, then I’ll do it.”
“Run 1,000 miles this year; pay down a credit card; get published in the papers 26 times,” said Blake Henderson, a New York humor writer visiting Napa for the new year, as he ticked off his 12-month to-do list. “It’s very metrics-based to me; that’s the only way I’m able to continue on. For me, setting a number is how I’m able to see success.”
Meanwhile, the New Year’s promises of some lean less on numbers than on moving closer to one’s heart.
“I want to be a writer, so my plan is to write almost every day,” said Krystal Edman-Wilson, a Solano Community College student visiting relatives in Napa. “It could be just my thoughts or poetry or anything like that. My major in college is English, and I love reading and writing. But I haven’t written as much as I should lately, and this is a good way to start again.”
Daniel Del Ponte’s self-hope for 2013 was even less measurable, and more heartfelt.
“I’m a Christian, so I want to be more like Christ — be more loving and kind,” said Del Ponte, an electrician from Suisun City. “I do OK, I mean, but I can do better to treat people right all the time.”