12/28: Wiping the Slate Clean … New Year’s Resolutions

Nearly half of all Americans — 48% — say they are at least somewhat likely to make a New Year’s resolution this year.  52%, on the other hand, report it is not very likely at all.

2010 calendar


The proportion of residents nationally who plan to wipe the slate clean has grown since last year.  When Marist last asked Americans about New Year’s resolutions at this time in 2008, 40% said they were either somewhat likely or very likely to make a resolution.

Click Here for Complete December 28, 2009 USA Poll Release and Tables

There has been a change among men on this question.  A majority of men — 53% — report they are at least somewhat likely to make a New Year’s resolution.  Last year, 37% of men said they were planning to alter their habits.  Women are consistent.  44% of women currently say they are going to make a change in 2010.  The same proportion — 44% — made that pledge last year.

Looking at age, younger Americans are more likely to change their lifestyle compared with their elders.  60% of residents under the age of 45 say they are somewhat or very likely to make a resolution.  40% of those 45 and older believe they will do the same.  In Marist’s 2008 poll about New Year’s resolutions, 55% of Americans younger than 45 years of age reported they were likely to make a vow to change while 29% of their elder counterparts said they were going to make the same promise.

Table: Likelihood of Making Resolution

Weight Loss Tips Scale of New Year’s Resolutions

Americans have health on their minds heading into 2010.  The number-one New Year’s resolution is weight loss.  19% of residents who are likely to make a resolution vow to shed those extra pounds next year, and 12% plan to stop smoking.  10% say they want to exercise more. Other leading lifestyle changes include being a better person (9%) and getting a better job (8%).

Although weight loss tops the list of resolutions for both men and women who are resolved to make a change in the New Year, more women than men plan to fight the battle of the bulge.  More than one-fifth of women — 22% — and 16% of men want to shed those extra pounds.

Older Americans reflect the top resolution of the overall population.  About a quarter of residents age 45 or older who say they will likely make a resolution promise to lose weight.  However, there is little agreement among their younger counterparts.  14% in this age group say they want to lose weight.  13% want to stop smoking, 12% resolve to get a better job, and 10% of these residents want to exercise more.  7% would like to be a better person.

Table: Top New Year’s Resolutions
Table: Complete List of New Year’s Resolutions

Keeping Their Word?

33% of Americans recall making a New Year’s resolution last year, but how successful were they?  Of those residents, 65% said they kept their promise for at least part of the year while 35% did not.  Men were more steadfast than were women.  70% of men kept their resolution for at least part of 2009.  This compares with 59% of women.

Dedication has grown among Americans who have previously made a resolution.  While 65% of residents kept their resolution for 2009, 60% did so in 2008.

Table: Made Resolution Last Year
Table: Kept 2009 Resolution?

Optimism Among Americans Grows

Looking ahead to the next decade, more than six in ten Americans have a positive outlook about the future.  63% say they are more optimistic heading into 2010 while 34% say they are more pessimistic.  When Marist last asked this question in December 2008, 56% of residents had a positive outlook toward the future.  40%, however, had a more dismal view.

Although men and women maintain a similar outlook about the future, optimism among men has grown.  Currently, 65% of women and 61% of men believe the future is a bright one.  Last year, 62% of women and 50% of men thought that way.

Younger Americans are also more positive about the future compared with their elders.  72% of those under 45 years old are optimistic about 2010 compared with 57% of those 45 and older.  A year ago, 64% of those under 45 and 52% of those who are older held a positive outlook for the year to come.

Table: Optimism for the Future

Marist Poll Methodology

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2008 New Year’s Tables