Tom Stangl

If you’re anything like me, you may have dropped a New Year’s resolution or two in your lifetime. You might say you plan to lose 50 pounds, or you might claim that this is the year you’re going to get that promotion; unfortunately, things don’t often pan out that way for most. 

It’s estimated that roughly 60 percent of New Year’s resolutions are dropped within six months. Sadder still, 25 percent are left in the dust only seven days after January 1. So, why does this happen? Are we all so unmotivated that we believe our plans to improve ourselves are too burdensome? You didn’t ask, but I’ll give you my opinion anyway.

I remember when I was a little younger making resolutions that, looking back, were extremely challenging. Being that fishing is my passion, I don’t start the New Year without stating an “angler’s resolution.” One year, my resolution was to catch a 50-pound flathead catfish.

You read that right – 50 pounds.

What’s the problem there? It’s not as if 50+ pound flathead aren’t caught regularly. That should mean that my 16-year-old self should be able to pull it off, right? The issue is that a fish like that (symbolic of a highly ambitious resolution) is an achievement of a lifetime, not a single year.

To this day, I have yet to catch my 50 pounder. I do have a 40 pounder under my belt, and even that took years of learning and many hours on the water. Now that I’m a bit older, I would go back and change my 16-year-old New Year’s resolution to, “Learn how to catch a 50 pound flathead.” In that resolution, my high ambitions are still there, but in a much more manageable bite that I can take in one year’s time. 

I think that is a big part of managing a new resolution – to make it something manageable. Let’s say your resolution was to lose 50 pounds. That may be a tall order for some, so why tag the number on it? Instead, maybe your resolution could be, “I am going to eat healthier, exercise, and record how much weight I’ve lost by next year.” That way the 50-pound cloud isn’t looming overhead, but your bigger goal to be a healthier person is right on track.

Now, let’s say that you’re the kind of person who wants to swing for the fences and you want to keep that highly ambitious resolution. Fair enough, but herein lies the problem: you have to keep it!

A study conducted at the Dominican University in California revealed a very simple way to keep to your intended goals. In that study, it was found that you are 42 percent more likely to keep your resolution if you simply write it down. Yes, it’s really that simple.  

By writing it down, you get it out of your own head and have recorded it. Now you have something tangible, something real that you can look at, analyze and plan around. It becomes more than just a thought in your head that could easily be dropped amid the craziness of every day life. 

Of course, I’m no expert, but I really do think these two things have made New Year’s resolutions a bit more manageable to me. Be ambitious, but set reasonable goals. And, when you have them, write them down. Of course, if you end up among the 60 percent that abandon your resolutions, don’t kick yourself. We’re only human, and there’s always next year.

I always welcome your comments, questions and concerns. Feel free to reach out at any time.

Matt Anderson



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