When millions of Americans pop the corks off champagne bottles in the first seconds of Jan. 1, those who make resolutions will officially be obliged to keep them.
Payson yoga instructor Anthony Alfano is one of the 38 percent of Americans who choose to end the year without resolutions.
“I’m metaphysically opposed,” he said. “I don’t think we really follow them.”
According to author Stephen Shapiro, Alfano is right. Just 8 percent of Americans are always successful in achieving their resolutions while 49 percent have “infrequent success.”
In 2006, Shapiro found that 45 percent of Americans said they usually make New Year’s resolutions, down from a historical 88 percent.
Shapiro conducted the random telephone survey of 1,012 Americans with the help of the New Jersey-based Opinion Research Corp.
At a Payson coffee shop Monday, roughly half of the six people interviewed had predetermined their New Year’s resolutions.
“I’ve made a list,” said Julie Lynch. She plans to attend morning Mass more, practice yoga, and take a computer class.
“Just those three,” Lynch said. “And if I do that, I’ll be doing good.”
Lynch’s husband, Jack, said, “I’m going to try to be a better citizen.” Jack said he consistently criticizes a certain public agency, but declined to specify which. “After Jan. 1, I’m not going to complain anymore,” Jack said.
Naomi Farber vowed to start her days with fruit smoothies instead of coffee.
“I intend to break my bad habit of going to bed late and getting up too late so I can exercise with my husband in the morning,” said JoAnne Smith.
Although the New Year won’t begin until Thursday, Farber and Smith were already celebrating on Monday. The two had eaten lunch and were sipping coffee while wearing costumes.
Farber wore a red suit and said she was imitating the Republican Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin. Smith wore a black hat with large round black sequins, a black sparkly turtleneck and black leather pants.
“We’re just celebrating our lives as friends,” said Farber.
“We like to costume together,” said Smith.
Of those who do set resolutions, 38 percent relate to weight, according to Shapiro. Thirty-one percent set resolutions related to relationships, and 47 percent resolve to improve themselves or their education.
Sara Eddy and Dugan Eckstein are among the latter category.
Eddy, who attends Coconino Community College in Flagstaff although she lives in Payson, said she wants to focus more on school this year.
Eckstein said he wants to stop working so much and return to school, ultimately to earn an associate’s degree in criminal justice.
Shapiro says that youth correlates to higher success in maintaining resolutions. That might explain why Eckstein, 19, said that he usually achieves his.
“I don’t make them that tough,” he said.
Alfano, the yoga teacher, said, “I think you have to live in the now more than the future.”
Shapiro, who wrote a book called “Goal-free Living,” agrees with Alfano.
He suggests reflecting on how a person can improve his happiness level today rather than believing it lies in the future. Shapiro adds that achieving resolutions rarely makes people happier — attitude matters more than results.
Further, Shapiro suggests making “theme-based” resolutions as opposed to “goal-based.”
For example — he plans on using 2009 as the year of doing “cool things.”
Farber had a similar resolution — try something new every few months. “You know, something you haven’t done before.”