The New Year is an opportunity for reflection on the past and planning for the future. That’s why so many of us engage in the New Year’s tradition of making resolutions to meet goals or change behaviors that challenged us in the prior year.
No matter our age, making New Year’s resolutions can encourage us to take actions we might otherwise have put off. If you’re looking for inspiration for your own intentions this year, here are the most popular resolutions that older adults and retirees are making. And if you’ve ever had trouble sticking to a resolution, we have some suggestions for you there, too!
Why We Make New Year’s Resolutions
Making New Year’s resolutions dates back to the early Christian period, when the end of the year marked a traditional time for spiritual reflection. Christians were encouraged to think about ways in which they had failed to live up to the expectations of their faith and commit to doing better in the year ahead.
In the mid-eighteenth century, the founder of Methodism popularized a Covenant Renewal Service, which was held on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day. This time of prayer, reflection, and resolution was a welcome alternative for these seeking respite from wild New Year’s parties.
Today, making resolutions is a largely secular practice. It continues not only because it’s become a cultural tradition, but also because it fulfills our human desire for a fresh start.
Popular New Year’s Resolutions for Retirees
Older adults are more likely to prioritize their health when making resolutions, and for good reason. Worldwide, people are living longer than ever before. According to the World Health Organization, most variations in our health as we age have to do with our physical and social environments, including our personal characteristics and choices.
Cultivating a supportive and nurturing physical and social environment can lead to a better overall quality of life. This is why it’s so important to focus on healthy and positive changes—no matter what stage of life you’re in. Older adults and retirees intuitively understand this, as these popular resolutions attest!
- Be more active. The benefits of activity—nearly any activity!—are well-known, and most of us don’t get enough of it. In a 2020 survey, 59% of adults over 55 said “exercising more” was one of their New Year’s resolutions.
- Lose weight. Dropping a few pounds was the second most popular resolution for older adults, with 50% of respondents including this on their list.
- Make healthier dietary choices. We know that making healthier eating choices is vital to aging well, which is why 45% of older adults resolved to do just that in the new year.
- Improved financial planning. The end of the year is a great time to get your financial affairs in order and tweak your budget. 28% of older adults responded that they hoped to “save more money” in the coming year.
- Take up a new hobby or develop a new skill (and spend less time on social media!). As these two resolutions have a correlation, it’s no surprise that they tied for fifth on the list of most popular resolutions.
- Home improvements. Perhaps it’s because we’re all spending more time at home, but “decorating or renovating part of the home” was popular with 9% of older adults.
- Spend more time with loved ones. Retirement offers the opportunity to gather more often with friends and family. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to sync up schedules with loved ones. This may be why 8% of survey respondents chose to put this resolution on their list.
Additional popular resolutions for older adults and retirees included drinking less, quitting smoking, volunteering more time with charitable organizations and raising money for non-profit causes.
What Makes New Year’s Resolutions Most Successful
The above resolutions are fairly general in scope, which may contribute to why so many people struggle to achieve them each year. In the same study referenced above, only about 30% of adults over 55 say they kept all of their resolutions in 2020.
The key to creating a successful resolution is to choose goals that are realistic and attainable. All of us have vowed to “eat right and exercise” at one time or another, but without a specific plan or measurable results in mind, our efforts often fail.
Let’s take a look at some of the popular resolutions above and see if we can make them more realistic and attainable.
Saying we want to “exercise more” isn’t a very specific goal, and it’s difficult to measure without a baseline to compare it to. Instead, resolve to “walk the dog for at least 10 minutes every day.” Or, “get at least 10,000 steps every weekday.” Specific and measurable is key! Also consider working this into your daily schedule. If you have blocked out a period for exercise on your schedule, you are more likely to take it.
How much weight do you want to lose? How often will you measure your progress? When you make this resolution, ensure that you have a specific and attainable goal in mind and then break it down into steps. It’s probably not realistic to resolve to lose twenty or thirty pounds in a month, but what about a goal of a pound a week, or five pounds a month? After determining your goal, write out a plan on how you will achieve it. For instance, resolving to track and measure your calorie intake.
Make Healthier Dietary Choices
We know we should “eat healthy” but what does that mean? Try setting a specific and measurable goal, such as “I will eat at least four servings of fruits and vegetables every day.” Or, “instead of choosing fries when I eat out, I will choose a side salad.” Small changes are measurable, and they add up.
Another way to improve the chances of meeting your goals is to be more intentional with your New Year’s resolutions. Share them with friends and family. Write them down or type them out on social media. The simple act of publicizing and committing to your goals makes it more likely you will achieve them.
More to Explore
If you enjoyed this article, you may also want to read about how to plan for retirement, or discover ways to improve your range of motion. At Claridge Court, our supportive community is always here to assist you in your health and wellness goals. If you have questions about what life is like here or want to learn more, contact us.