By Aaron Earls
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — After a season in which avoiding sickness was on most everyone’s mind, many Americans say their New Year’s resolutions address their health.
More Americans say their past resolutions have focused on their health, their relationship with God, their finances and their relationship with a family member than other possibilities, according to a new survey of 1,005 Americans from Lifeway Research.
“New Year’s resolutions reflect the changes people aspire to make,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “The COVID-19 pandemic may have forced or encouraged more people to make changes outside of the annual reminder a new year brings. But a New Year’s resolution is still something most Americans have made at some point in their lives.”
As people contemplate their 2022 resolutions, more than 2 in 5 Americans (44%) say previous New Year’s resolutions have focused on their health. More than 1 in 4 say they’ve made resolutions on their relationship with God (29%), their finances (29%) or their relationship with a family member (26%).
Fewer say their resolutions have dealt with their use of time (22%), their work (18%) or their relationship with a friend (15%).
More than a quarter of Americans (28%) say they haven’t made resolutions about any of these, while 4% aren’t sure.
This year’s New Year’s resolutions rankings remained similar to a 2015 Lifeway Research phone survey of 1,000 Americans. Compared to the previous study, finances moved from the fifth most common resolution to third on the list this year. The percentage who selected each of the resolution topics, however, dropped from six years ago.
Young adults (those age 18 to 34) are among the most likely to say they’ve made New Year’s resolutions in the past about each of the topics: health (52%), finances (40%), relationship with God (35%), relationship with a family member (36%), use of time (34%), work (29%) and relationship with a friend (25%). Meanwhile, those 65 and older (54%) are most likely to say they have not made a resolution about any of the topics listed.
Church attendance also seems to have an impact on wanting to make changes in the new year. Among self-identified Christians, those who attend at least monthly are more likely than Christians who attend less frequently to say they’ve made resolutions in each of the options. Those who attend less than monthly (44%) are most likely to say they haven’t made a New Year’s resolution in any of the areas.
“Making a New Year’s resolution doesn’t reveal who or what a person is relying on to make that change in their life, nor how successful such resolutions are,” said McConnell. “But higher numbers seen among younger adults, those who attended at least some college, and church-going Christians indicate they have higher motivation to make such changes at least in the form of New Year’s resolutions.”
Resolutions concerning a relationship with God are more popular among churchgoers, African Americans, young adults and those with evangelical beliefs.
Those aged 18 to 34 (35%) and 35 to 49 (35%) are more likely than those aged 50 to 64 (25%) and those 65 and older (17%) to say they have made a previous New Year’s resolution about their relationship with God.
African Americans (41%) are more likely than whites (27%) to make such commitments at the start of a new year.
Christians who attend a worship service four times a month or more (48%) or one to three times a month (39%) are more likely than those who attend less frequently (20%) to mark New Year’s with a resolution about their relationship with God.
Americans with evangelical beliefs (48%) are more likely than those without such beliefs (23%) to say they’ve addressed their relationship with God in a New Year’s resolution in the past.
Though less than any other religious group, 14% of the religiously unaffiliated say a resolution about their relationship with God has been part of their end-of-the-year reflections.
The unaffiliated are among the most likely to have made resolutions addressing their finances (36%), their use of time (29%) and their work (22%).
Aaron Earls is a writer for Lifeway Christian Resources.
The online survey of 1,005 Americans was conducted Sept. 3-14, 2021, using a national pre-recruited panel. Quotas and slight weights were used to balance gender, age, region, ethnicity, education and religion to more accurately reflect the population. The completed sample is 1,005 surveys. The sample provides 95% confidence that the sampling error from the panel does not exceed plus or minus 3.3%. This margin of error accounts for the effect of weighting. Margins of error are higher in sub-groups.
Evangelical beliefs are defined using the NAE Lifeway Research Evangelical Beliefs Research Definition based on respondent beliefs. Respondents are asked their level of agreement with four separate statements using a four-point, forced choice scale (strongly agree, somewhat agree, somewhat disagree, strongly disagree). Those who strongly agree with all four statements are categorized as having evangelical beliefs.
- The Bible is the highest authority for what I believe.
- It is very important for me personally to encourage non-Christians to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior.
- Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is the only sacrifice that could remove the penalty of my sin.
- Only those who trust in Jesus Christ alone as their Savior receive God’s free gift of eternal salvation.
About Lifeway Research
Lifeway Research is a Nashville-based, evangelical research firm that specializes in surveys about faith in culture and matters that affect churches.
About Lifeway Christian Resources
In operation since 1891, Lifeway Christian Resources is one of the leading providers of Christian resources, including Bibles, books, Bible studies, Christian music and movies, VBS, and church supplies, as well as camps and events for all ages. Lifeway is the world’s largest provider of Spanish Bibles. Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Lifeway receives no denominational funding and operates as a self-supporting nonprofit.