|Individualism Shines Through Americans' 2011 New Year's Resolutions|
January 3, 2011
As the calendar shifts from holiday celebrations to January, a new survey from the Barna Group explores what Americans describe as their New Year's resolutions. The nationwide survey of 1,022 adults provides a snapshot of people’s personal growth priorities for 2011, when they make such commitments.
The Role of Resolutions?
Yet, only one out of every five (19%) is “definitely” planning to make resolutions, which may be a reflection of either the half-hearted effort many put forth or a recognition of their past failure to follow through on such goals. When asked to describe their experience with resolutions during 2010, only one out of four Americans (23%) who had made resolutions found those commitments resulted in “significant, long-term change” to their behaviors or attitudes. More commonly, Americans described their 2010 resolutions as resulting in “minor change” (29%) or “no change” (49%).
Another reason people may struggle with keeping their resolutions: they try to achieve personal change on their own. Among those who are making New Year’s resolutions, most said they were not planning on having “accountability or a support system in place” to help them stick with those commitments.
What (or Who) Gets Attention?
While people concentrate on themselves when making priorities for the New Year, it is telling that so few Americans say they want to improve relationships with others. There were virtually no mentions of volunteering or serving others; only a handful of comments about marriage or parenting; almost no responses focusing on being a better friend; and only a small fraction of people mentioned improving their connection with God.
David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, explained these findings: “Only 9 out of more than 1,000 survey respondents – that’s not quite one percent – mentioned that one of their objectives for next year was getting closer to God in some way. Even in the rare instance when people mention spiritual goals, it is often about activity undertaken for God, rather than a personal pursuit of God or an experience with God.”
As further proof of Americans’ self-oriented concerns, Kinnaman pointed out that “virtually none of the survey respondents mentioned anything about becoming more green. Despite the significant attention environmental issues receive, virtually no one connects their New Year’s resolutions with personal responsibility in this area."
Perspectives on Resolutions
"Maybe most problematic, Americans hinge their efforts at personal change by focusing almost exclusively on themselves, rather than realizing that lasting change often comes by serving and sacrificing for others. Churches and faith communities have a significant opportunity to help people identify what makes for transformational change and how to best achieve those objectives – especially by relying on goals and resources beyond their individualism."
Elders are those born before 1946; Boomers are the generation born from 1946 to 1964; Busters are individuals born between 1965 and 1983; and Mosaics are adults born 1984 or since.
"Downscale" individuals are those whose annual household income is less than $20,000 and who have not attended college. "Upscale" people are those whose annual household income is $75,000 or more and have graduated from a four-year college.Barna Group (which includes its research division, the Barna Research Group) is a private, non-partisan, for-profit organization that conducts primary research, produces media resources pertaining to spiritual development, and facilitates the healthy spiritual growth of leaders, children, families and Christian ministries. Located in Ventura, California, Barna has been conducting and analyzing primary research to understand cultural trends related to values, beliefs, attitudes and behaviors since 1984.
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© Barna Group 2011.
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