Dear Grandparenting: The wife and I are getting into the New Year’s resolution business. Our two grandchildren decided to make some changes in 2021 and we decided to jump in with a few of our own.
The grandkids have made one thing abundantly clear: they’ll be hounding us to keep our promises, and we’ll return the favor. So we’ll all be keeping score. Do you have any advice about making good on our resolutions? I’ve heard most people fail miserably. Lew Chance, Tampa, Florida
Dear Lew: The ancient Romans kicked off their new years by making promises to their god Janus, namesake of January. The custom continues around the world, but nowhere with America’s fervor.
There’s something in our national psyche — an enduring belief in self-reliance, the booming self-improvement industry — that makes for avid resolution makers.
“God helps them that help themselves,” said founding father Ben Franklin, and the idea stuck. But old habits die hard. Roughly 90% of all New Year resolutions fail, according to informed estimates. One study found a majority will give up by Jan. 12.
We like your little family plan — grandparents should leap at such shared experiences. According to those who study such things, resolutions that are attainable, concrete and specific work best. Instead of losing 20 pounds, try 10. The trick is sustaining one’s motivation. Heartfelt goals fare better than goals imposed by others. Establishing new habits takes a good month of daily repetition.
Finally, researchers recently found that humans possess a limited supply of willpower. Don’t spread yourself too thin. One resolution is about all you can handle.
Grand remark of the week
“Age only matters if you’re cheese.” — Actress Helen Hayes
Dee and Tom, married more than 50 years, have eight grandchildren. Together with Key, they welcome questions, suggestions and Grand Remarks of the Week. Send to P.O. Box 27454, Towson, MD, 21285. Call 410-963-4426.