After a month and a half of binge drinking Pumpkin Spiced Lattes and having just one more slice of pie, once New Year’s comes along, we’ve all had enough. We grab our new Roshe Runs from under the Christmas Tree and head out to the gym, resolved to finally maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We tell ourselves that we’re going to spend every single afternoon pumping iron, we chronicle on Facebook our steadfast plan to run five miles a day.
But (shocker), 80% of gym memberships made in January don’t make it past five months. Then schoolwork piles up and life gets in the way. Seven days a week turn into three. Five miles turn into two. Next thing you know, we’re back on the couch finishing an entire season of Game of Thrones (not to mention a full jar of Nutella) in one sitting. Not that I’m judging.
If you’re not fulfilling your goal, you might as well quit, right?
How many of us set resolutions that are practical and pragmatic? How many of us resign ourselves to the confines of failure before considering the pursuit of a less daunting track that leads us to ultimate success? How many of us simply set ourselves up to fail?
The answer, in short: A lot of us. As freshman, Erica Chen, explained, she no longer sets New Year’s resolutions because,”I never keep them.” Knowing that failure is eminent is a significant deterrent in and of itself. This is a trend throughout the student body, sophomores Dan DiGangi and Frankie Caputo agreeing that they, too, do not follow through on their resolutions because they simply aren’t feasible.
Junior, Nick Perry, has found a different problem when attempting the execution of his goals. Last year, he was resolved to, “get swole” as he put it. However, as he explained, “school and sports take up my entire week except for Sunday, and Sunday I end up just being lazy and resting… [the] Fencing season and ACT prep took away all my time and energy.” With the often overwhelming expectations and schedules set for students today, finding time to make productive changes in lifestyles becomes increasingly difficult. If we are barely finding the time to finish our homework in between our copious collection of clubs, hours of sports practice, all while maintaining a healthy social life, where is the time to make constructive change?
But don’t worry Nick, you’re not the only one who was resolved to, “get swole.” In fact, as Barbara and Brynn, two employees of the local New York Sports Club in Deer Park explained, gym usage increases approximately 50-55% in the weeks following the New Year. There is a spike of new members and an increase in the number of stagnant members who pop in, resolved to turn the pounds they’d gained over the holidays into massive gains. However, of those new gym rats, approximately 30% maintain a steady commitment past February or March. After then, their attendance becomes increasingly more sporadic and eventually dwindles.
But this phenomenon is not confined simply to the New Year. In fact, according to Barbara and Brynn, there are typically three significant surges throughout the year: January, April to May, and September. January, clearly, is due to New Years. April and May bring new gym-goers in a faithful attempt to reach that Pinterest-perfect “summer bod” that we all dream of. September rolls around, and school starts, typically giving mothers a chance to hit the gym after sending their children off for the day. But, just as they explained for the New Year’s rise, the increase in gym attendance dies down a mere month or so after it begins. What does that say about our motivation as a people?
Does that mean that setting resolutions is as trivial a practice as asking a groundhog named Punxsutawney Phil how long winter will last? No. In fact, practical intentions are often met with genuine results. Junior, Dan Lee, is the quintessential example of this. In years past, his goal was, “Get over a ninety in one of my classes.” Not improbable or impractical, but enough to motivate a good student to attain good grades. Lee explained that the fact he knew he could reach his goal drove him to see it through.
Sophmore, Joe Bender, found the same to be true for him. He told, “My 2017 New Year’s Resolution is to begin recycling more often… I can set up a timeline of which dates I want to have a certain number of water bottles collected, and also plan on putting a recycling container in my room to remind me every day.”
Looking around at the world today, countries in turmoil, leaders bombing their own people, and a global population teeming with unrest, gym attendance seems quite insignificant in the grand scheme of things. That being said, it serves as a perfect microcosm of the society in which we exist today. We set our sights on the stars, imagining ourselves achieving nothing short of perfection. Then, the moment that we are met with any sort of resistance, and our hope begins to dwindle, we think it’s over, and we give up.
But, just as we are shown by Dan Lee and Joe Bender, fulfilling our goals is far from an impossible feat. All it takes is practicality and determination. Both students chose goals that meant something to them and offered motivation, without setting the bar unrealistically high. As Bender described, “Recycling helps save the Earth and our environment so it feels like the perfect way to give back and start fresh in this upcoming year.”