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Geography factors into resolution success

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“New Year’s Day — Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. Yesterday, everybody smoked his last cigar, took his last drink, and swore his last oath. Today, we are a pious and exemplary community. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever.” - Mark Twain, letter to Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, January 1863

Is your list of New Year’s resolutions made? Are you ready to spring into life-altering action on Monday? If so, the easy work is done. The hard part is keeping those resolutions — and where you live may factor into success, according to experts.

WalletHub, a personal finance website, reports that community makeup factor into success. “If you live in a neighborhood with no sidewalks or fitness centers nearby, for example, you may not feel as encouraged to exercise. The same goes if most of your restaurant options are limited to fast food: You may be less likely to eat healthy on days you dine out. These might sound like excuses to the boldest resolvers, but they genuinely can impede a person’s progress at self-improvement, especially if motivation is low to begin with.”

Indeed. WalletHub estimates failure rates to vary from 42 percent to 92 percent. To determine where Americans are most likely to stick to their goals for 2018, WalletHub “considered some of the most popular (and most commonly broken) resolutions to rank more than 180 U.S. cities based on their conduciveness to self-improvement.”

The website looked at 182 cities and two in Arkansas made the national rankings. Neither was located in the lower regions. Sigh. The top five cities were Seattle, Wash,, San Francisco and San Diego, Calif., Scottsdale, Ariz., and Salt Lake City, Utah. The bottom five were Detroit, Mich., Jackson, Miss., Newark, N.J., Shreveport, LA., and Gulfport, Miss.

Yes! Once again, thank God for Mississippi. Arkansas cities that made the list include Little Rock at 152 and Fort Smith at 162.

For the record, I no longer make resolutions. I suppose I have cast my reformations to the winds too many times. I will tell you that I need to adopt a healthier lifestyle: eat right and less, lose weight, and exercise and sleep more. But I needed to do that a year ago.

To gauge the resolution temperature of friends, I asked on social media what goals or resolutions people had for the coming year. The following is what I learned from public posts and private messages.

“For the new year, I want to focus more on listening and less on talking. I really, really, really want to quit smoking — this time forever. And I want to learn to let idiots be idiots and stop trying to change them into logical-thinking individuals.”

“Try to get in some sort of exercise regimen. Get healthier.”

“Try to be happy” was the goal of one, while “finding my place in the world of retirement” was the focus.

“Treat myself better, take better care of my health and spirit.”

“Travel across the big pond to see my son and how the British live … maybe even get to meet the queen.”

Adopting a healthier lifestyle was the most common resolution but others included successfully planning a daughter’s wedding, reading 2017’s book list, getting organized, spending more time with parents and in Bible study, working on patience, being a more profitable horse player, and understanding the writings of Fr. Robert Spitzer, SJ, Ph.D.

Good luck to all on achieving your 2018 resolutions and goals. Statistically, the odds may be against you, based on geography and access to healthy lifestyle amenities, but obstacles are made for overcoming. Happy New Year. Here’s to a positive and fulfilling 2018.

Shea Wilson is the former managing editor of the El Dorado News-Times. Email her at melsheawilson@gmail.com. Follow her on Twitter @SheaWilson7.

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