Resolve to be reasonable

Nearly 45 percent of Americans made new year’s resolutions. Far fewer will actually keep them, according to the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology.

Area residents are among those making self-improvement pledges.

“I’ve got a million of them, probably the same as everyone else – to lose weight,” Michelle Galazia of Edinburg, Pa., said Monday night at First Night Youngstown.

“Become a better me, that’s my New Year’s resolution,” said Tina Combs of Warren, who also was out at the New Year’s Eve event in Youngstown.

Gianna Pangio from Struthers, attending the event with her family, said she is hoping to get good grades.

While resolutions are easy to make, they are certainly difficult to keep. According to local psychologists, the problem lies in the lofty statements.

“People make resolutions because they offer hope,” said Dr. Douglas Darnall of the PsyCare branch in Liberty. “The reason they fail most often is because the resolution is unrealistic. It’s a long-term rather than a short-term goal.”

The psychologist said in order to make resolutions more attainable, they should be realistic, very specific, and short-term goals “in a way where you can observe behavior.”

For example, one of the top 10 resolutions according to the University of Scranton’s Journal of Clinical Psychology is to “enjoy life to the fullest.”

This is a goal everyone has every day and doesn’t need reminded of, Darnall said. Rather, a more achievable and measurable goal would be to meditate once or twice a week.

Instead of making a goal to help others with their dreams, Darnall suggests help others by volunteering once a week with an organization like Angels for Animals.

Dr. Kenneth R. Wallace Jr. of Vienna said the common problem with resolutions is that they tend to be “magical thinking” as opposed to practical and sustainable goals. Wallace said most goals are to be either too broad and vague or too specific and lofty.

“First off, make them smaller,” the psychologist said.

Instead of a goal of losing 30 pounds, Wallace said resolve to eat healthier. Instead of a goal to help others with their dreams, Wallace suggests visit a nursing home once a month or volunteer at the Warren Family Mission.

Having goals that are not based solely on one’s will power or on “magical thinking” will improve your odds of seeing them through.

“The best way to keep one,” Bruce Milbert of New Castle, Pa., said, “is not to have one.”

For the 55 percent of American’s who don’t make a resolution, perhaps it is to the same logic.