New Survey: New Year’s Resolution Usage Plummets from 88% to 45%

The results of a survey released today conclude that only 45% Americans say they write up New Years Resolutions–down from 88% in past years.

In a random telephone survey of 1012 people conducted between 5 August and 8 August, 2005, Stephen Shapiro, president of and Opinion Research Corp. of Princeton N.J., asked about American’s New Year’s Resolutions. The results bode ill for the institution of annual stop smoking and weight loss self-promises.

“New Year’s Resolutions just don’t work,” says Shapiro. “According to our study, only 8% of Americans say they always achieve their New Year’s resolutions. The way it seems to work now, setting a New Year’s Resolution is a recipe for defeat. It has come to be one of the nation’s most masochistic traditions — almost rivaling Halloween in that respect.”

Says Shapiro: “At some point, people just decide to stop hurting themselves, and they call the whole thing off.”

According to the study, New Year’s resolution usage in America has been falling rapidly with age–57% of those aged 18-24 set New Years resolutions, compared with only 32% of those over age 54 who still set them. “As we get older, we get wiser–and we identify things that don’t work for us and stop using them,” says Shapiro.

Among those who plan on continuing the tradition, a third say they will set just a single New Year’s goal for themselves, while 26% set 2-3 new goals for the year, and a hardy 6% set will set 4 or more goals for the New Year.

What will they be resolving? According to the new study, of those who plan to set New Years Resolutions for 2006:

  • 34% say they will set a New Year’s Resolution related to their wallet
  • 38% say they will set a New Year’s Resolution related to their waistline
  • 47% say they will set a New Year’s Resolution related to their head i.e. a self-improvement type goal
  • 31% say they will set a New Year’s Resolution related to their heart — i.e. a relationship or dating goal.

Shapiro suggests setting New Year’s Resolutions that ignore specific faults and flaws, focussing instead on increasing happiness and quality of life. Goals like making more money, losing those love handles, or finding Mr. Right are self-defeating and lead to feelings of failure, bitterness, and unhappiness.

Are you among the 45% who still believes in New Years Resolutions? If so, what will you promise yourself this December 31st?