PUTNAM COUNTY — Nearly a month into 2014, we thought it would be
interesting to track how people are faring with their New Year’s
resolutions. The custom was first used by the ancient Babylonians to
make amends for their wrongdoings of the previous year. One of the most
common resolutions was to return all borrowed farming equipment. The
practice was passed down through generations.
But are the annual
promises as popular as they once were? A CBS News poll in 2013 found
that 68 percent of Americans don’t make New Year’s resolutions. Two
years ago, that number was 58 percent. In an informal (but certainly not
scientific) survey of Putnam County residents of varied ages and
gender, answers ranged from witty, to heartfelt, to deliberate.
don’t make them. I can’t stick to them,” Joslyn Johnson related. “I do
better with Lent.” She explained she and her husband typically have a
competition during the Lenten season.
Earl Forbush, 87, firmly
responded, “I don’t make them — never have. If I’m not going to live up
to them, I might as well not do them in the first place.”
interjected, “But Earl, you said you were going to cut down on all
those girlfriends!” That got a loud guffaw from the spry senior citizen.
Steve Nienberg gave one of the most straightforward answers as to why he doesn’t bother with resolutions.
“It’d work for the first eight hours, until I get up!” he laughed.
people said that while they do not make specific New Year’s
resolutions, they work on good habits all the time. Teresa Rampe
commented, “I don’t make them. I try to do things year ‘round.” Melissa
Weaver said she does not make New Year’s resolutions, but does like the
idea of making goals for herself. “I continually make improvements,” she
Most people who made decisions to make New Year’s
resolutions focused on self-improvement. Some of the most popular ones
were: developing healthier eating and exercise habits, volunteering, and
becoming more outgoing.
Jeremy Kaufman, a junior at Otttawa-Glandorf, related, “I want to lift more at the Y. I also want to get more As.”
Cantu, a sophomore at Leipsic High School resolved to stay fit and to
start working out. “I am really out of shape,” he lamented. He joined
“I love the workouts, and everybody tries to help you,”
he observed. Cantu also wants to become more social and find new
hobbies. He hopes to combine those choices, as he recently moved to
Jan Jones wants to use what resources she has. “I am
trying not to go out and buy more. Even in my refrigerator, I want to
use what I have,” she explained. “So far, I am doing well.”
Black went all out. The Ottawa resident related, “I plan to continue a
healthy lifestyle. I added my husband, Matt, to the mix. I got rid of
bad food in our house — boxes and garbage bags full of food. We are both
on a cleanse together. Matt is drinking a lot more water, a lot less
alcohol. Our kids don’t get candy when we’re at home. We’re trying to
reward the kids with fun family activities as opposed to food.”
Wade, also involved her whole family in . “We resolved to do more
community service, and to connect with people who need us. We feel like
our kids need this. If we stop doing community service, we become
complacent. I don’t want to get to the point where we forget our
Although the Wade family has not come up with a
concrete plan, they would like to find something that their children can
connect with other kids as opposed to adults. Brenda Michel plans to
have a positive attitude toward herself and others. “I am tired of
people treating each other unkindly in the world. My motto is ‘kill them
with kindness.’ I want to reinforce the positive with something good. A
smile goes a long way. You never know how a smile will affect someone,”
Sometimes, New Year’s resolutions don’t last, even with the best-laid plans.
Coates had decided to cut back to one cup of coffee a day. When she was
snowed in at the beginning of the month, she had nothing to do but
drink hot beverages all day.
“Now I’m back on the sauce!” she
laughed. Why do people want to change their habits and attain success in
their New Year’s resolutions? After all, change can be a big
undertaking, and downright scary.
According to Jessica Cox, a
licensed independent social worker at Pathways Counseling Center in
Ottawa, “People want to improve themselves, and search until they find a
habit they want to improve upon. The change helps us grow, and we learn
about ourselves in the process.”
“Sometimes, our bad habits can
get us in trouble,” she added. “ A bad habit takes a month or more to
change, depending on the severity of the habit.” Cox explained people
who want to change need support of friends and family. In addition, the
person must make a specific plan for change. For example, it is not
enough to say, “I want to exercise more.” A person who truly desires
change must plan, among other factors, when, where, and how often he/she
will exercise. If the person cannot follow the plan, it should be
revised. Cox concluded, “We need to associate the new change with a
positive emotion. Our emotions can drive us to change or not to change.”
Next week: Community programs are helping residents make life-altering improvements, and more assistance is on the horizon.