With the clearing away of the holiday tinsel and brushing away crumbs of Christmas dinner, many will step back into their routines with a decision to better themselves as well, perhaps by dropping a bad habit or picking up a good one. Traditionally a new year can signify a fresh start, but too often New Year's resolutions are easy to make but hard to keep.
Jane Long, for example, has resolved to make an effort at increasing her physical fitness. She agreed that motivation is a factor for keeping to any regimen, even when time becomes available or when time can be taken.
Most of the common New Year's resolutions people are most familiar with deal with issues of personal health, such as giving up those cigarettes or cutting down on the calorie intake. Other contenders include a resolve to better manage money, or organize their lives or their career. The desire to better oneself is a common one.
Of course, a resolution can be as simple as a promise to spend more time with family and so prioritize the most meaningful parts of life.
However, some people take the attitude that a New Year's resolution is unnecessary, or that people may be setting themselves up to fail when they meet the day to day grind of keeping to the change.
"The biggest thing is trying to follow through with a New Year's resolution," said Kathy Curfman, adding that the best strategy is to be prepared through the year.
"Everyone has to have goals and achieve them as best they can but as long as you have a positive attitude a New Year's resolution is not needed. The best thing is to have a positive outlook and attitude," she said. "You have to approach every day like a fresh start."
Joseph Seszko, an instructor in the martial arts, said he very rarely makes a New Year's resolution. He said discipline must come from within and every day can be a New Year.
"It's just something you've got to stick with," he said. "I don't know how many people make a resolution and don't stick with it. You just make it and you do it. You don't have to have a certain special day to do something."
Nonetheless, the New Year and its connotations of change can be a spur to making a positive improvement. If one resolves to make 2012 different than the preceding year, a little common sense can help. Start small, set a realistic goal, meet it and go further to maintain the sense of steady progress.
Resolutions and good habits in general are also more easily adhered to by groups, so finding others to share the experience of kicking a habit is a source of reinforcement. One can form a club around anything.
Finally, practice makes perfect and a single slip is no reason to give up altogether, but rather to meet the day with new resolve.
So whether starting a resolution or sticking with one, make 2012 a year to celebrate.
DeFrank can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org