Every morning I walk past Snap Fitness, a small workout facility on the street leading to Schiller Park. As is always the case, after the first of the year it was decidedly more crowded than normal, with lots of people using the treadmills. Over the last few days, however, the usage has definitely declined. It’s not clear whether the new users have given up entirely already–that usually doesn’t happen until we get closer to the end of January–but the trend is unmistakable.
What causes people to make resolutions with the best of intentions, and then let them slide away? In thinking about it this morning, I think there are four main causes:
Temptation — As the Dairy Queen sign above reflects, temptation probably plays the biggest role in causing people to break their resolutions. If you’ve resolved to “eat healthier” and you’ve got to drive past a DQ every day on your way to work, or some well-meaning person in the office brings in assorted doughnuts every Friday, it’s going to be just that more difficult to stick to your resolution. In fact, if you think about it, it really should be a federal law that every Dairy Queen in the country must close during the month of January.
Discouragement — Discouragement clearly also plays an important role. Let’s say, for example, that you have resolved to exercise every day by taking a brisk walk. If you then experience a few days of ultra-cold weather or freezing rain, and you therefore logically decide to refrain from following through on that resolution, by day three or four you might figure that you’ve blown it already, and what’s the point? I would guess that the shutdown orders issued in March 2020 drove the last nail into the coffin of multiple 2020 New Year’s resolutions.
Perceived Futility — TV commercials and pop-up ads suggest that people can change their lives on a dime, melt away that stubborn belly fat, and become the person of their dreams by drinking a special concoction or using a particular exercise machine for only minutes a day. If you believe that and find that two weeks of work at the gym don’t seem to be having an effect on the bathroom scales, you may just decide it’s hopeless.
Evil Forces That Simply Conspire Against You To Crush Your Best Intentions — A good example of this situation is if you are a Cleveland Browns fan who resolves to adopt a more positive and cheerful attitude about life.