If you tell me yours, I’ll tell you mine

I read that 40 percent to 45 percent of American adults make one or more New Year's resolutions each year.

Among the top resolutions are losing weight, increasing exercise and quitting smoking. Next in line are better money management and debt reduction.

Even if people swear on a stack of Bibles that they will stick to their resolutions, their resolve seems to be short-lived.

I did some research on this and according to one study, 75 percent keep their resolutions after the first week, 71 percent after two weeks, 64 percent after one month and only 46 percent of those who make New Year's resolutions are hanging in there after six months. Eventually, only 7 percent of all resolutions are ever kept.

Television advertisers are most certainly tapping into this apparent soft spot in the American psyche. If I see one more weight loss ad or stop smoking commercial, I am liable to start binge eating or, worse yet, light up.

Am I the only one who thinks making New Year's resolutions and keeping them has lost its luster?

I remember a time when making resolutions on New Year's Eve was a central and important year-end tradition. Do you remember the thought and care we used put into it?

I've made resolutions to be a better person, to spend more time with my husband and to do a better job of dusting my house.

Unfortunately, part of the problem is that too many New Year's resolutions do not involve full disclosure. Most of the time, they are kept in a shroud of secrecy, making it easier to slip up.

Another problem when making New Year's resolutions is that there is no plan or support system to help us tow the line and to hold us accountable.

Nowadays, I just think about what it is I want to improve, stop or start doing and hope for the best.

Once in awhile, I reveal my resolution and then I'm stuck. I have to either to keep it or spend the whole year making excuses for why I failed to keep it.

What is it about this age-old tradition that has fallen by the wayside in our disposable age, where "short-term" is the end of the week and "long-term" means the end of the month?

I am looking for a few sojourners in that 7 percent who have made and kept New Year's resolutions. Just to know that resolutions aren't empty promises gives rise to hope and promise.

When it comes right down to it, we probably have more control over our lives than we are willing to admit. Just think how much better the world would be if more people kept their New Year's resolutions.

People would be healthier and happier. They would be less agitated and more peaceful. At least, I'd like to think so anyway.

A resident of Southeast South Dakota, Paula Damon is a national award-winning columnist. Her columns have won first-place in National Federation of Press Women, South Dakota Press Women and Iowa Press Women Communications Contests. In the 2009 South Dakota Press Women Communications Contest, Paula's columns took three first-place awards. To contact Paula, email pauladamon@iw.net, follow her blog at www.my-story-your-story.blogspot.com and find her on Facebook.
2009© Paula Damon

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