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What surveys say about New Year's resolutions

According to a survey from Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, 44 percent of Americans will soon embark on an ambitious self-improvement program. It happens at the turn of every new year - gyms brim over, financial advisors receive infinite requests for information and kindness fills the air. Of course this productive atmosphere only lasts for so long, as fewer than half of "resolvers" actually keep their commitments.

Running from running shoes
Most resolvers begin the new year with a renewed interest in exercise, and fitness centers often benefit. Approximately 12 percent of new gym members join in January, reported the International Health, Racquet and Sportsclub Association. Unfortunately, many of those new memberships go to waste, as half of first-time gym goers lose their resolve in the first six months, reported FiveThirtyEight. According to Time magazine, couples might be the problem. When twosomes attempt to establish a fitness routine, the self-control level of the laziest half colors the regimen and, more often than not, dooms it to failure.

The resolution itself might also be problematic. The psychological theory called decision fatigue suggests that decision making tires us out, reported The New York Times. According to Scientific American, failed fitness resolvers can take solace in that fact that their mental gymnastics probably burned around 200 calories.

Money on the mind
For many resolvers, finance is a primary concern. Every year since 2005, Google searches involving the term "saving money" have spiked in January. However, for many, this resolution begins and ends at the research stage. According to Money, only 10 percent of resolvers follow through on their money-saving objectives. Apparently, the uncommitted are missing out on real satisfaction. Approximately 51 percent of those who achieve personal financial reform feel genuinely relieved.

According to U.S. News and World Report, resolvers interested in improving their financial standing should make specific goals. Instead of shooting for abstract objectives, formulate achievable aims. Look to increase loan payment amounts or make incremental budget cuts. 

Hugs free of charge
According to Statista, 9 percent of resolvers kick off the new year by making an attitude adjustment. Of course, this refreshed outlook on life usually fades within the first few moments of the morning commute. Driving is stressful and human fingers are opposable.

Being a better person usually starts with developing empathy. Though this objective may seem as abstract as any other unachievable resolution, their are concrete steps resolvers can take develop empathy. Self discovery is the key, reported The New York Times. Psychologist Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., told the paper individuals looking to increase their empathy should embrace introspective experiences like meditation or prayer. He also recommends reconnecting with nature.

Harvard University psychologist Steven Pinker, Ph.D., said the non-empathetic should look to literary fiction. Science agrees. According to a study by researchers at The New School in New York, novels enable us to better understand each other. Research shows that the genre, which often focuses on character psychology, helps readers appreciate the perspectives of others.      

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