CHICAGO, IL — New Year’s resolutions are a little like umbrellas during a hurricane — they’re easily broken. But a new analysis offers this bit of good news: It may not be a lack of commitment that makes you break resolutions, but where you live. In other words, credit Chicago with sticking with your plan for 2019.

The personal finance website WalletHub looked at 182 U.S. cities, including the 150 most-populated cities, and compared their success in keeping common New Year’s resolutions to get healthier, more financially fit, perform better at school or work, quit bad habits, and improve personal relationships.

Overall, the Windy City came in at No. 32, comfortably in the top half, and scored really well when it came to keeping resolutions about our personal relationships (school- and work-related resolutions? Not so much).

Here’s where Chicago ranked by category:

  • Health resolutions: 76
  • Financial resolutions: 31
  • School and work resolutions: 159
  • Bad habit resolutions: 97
  • Relationship resolutions: 6

Tell Us: What’s your New Year’s resolution for 2019? Help your neighbors in YOUR CITY succeed with some tips on how you plan to keep your word to yourself.

In areas that don’t have sidewalks or nearby fitness centers, people may not feel encouraged to exercise, the site said, adding that if restaurant options are limited to fast-food joints, you’re less likely to eat healthy foods when you don’t cook at home.

“These might sound like excuses to the boldest resolvers, but they genuinely can get in the way of self-improvement,” WalletHub said. “That’s especially true if your motivation is low to begin with.”

In all, WalletHub looked at 56 metrics that also included the percentage of obese adults, the percentage of adults who exercise, household income, credit scores, unemployment, school performance in GreatSchools rankings, the percentage of adults who drink excessively or binge drink, the percentage of adult smokers, restaurants per capita and parkland per capita.

According to WalletHub, the top 10 cities for keeping New Year’s resolutions are concentrated in the western U.S., mostly in California, with a couple of exceptions:

  1. San Francisco, California
  2. Scottsdale, Arizona
  3. San Diego, California
  4. Seattle, Washington
  5. Irvine, California
  6. San Jose, California
  7. Salt Lake City, Utah
  8. Austin, Texas
  9. Portland, Oregon
  10. Orlando, Florida

The bottom 10 cities for keeping New Year’s resolutions, starting with the least successful, are:

  1. Gulfport, Mississippi
  2. Shreveport, Louisiana
  3. Newark, New Jersey
  4. Fort Smith, Arkansas
  5. Detroit, Michigan
  6. Jackson, Mississippi
  7. Huntington, West Virginia
  8. Augusta, Georgia
  9. Charleston, West Virginia
  10. Loredo, Texas

If you’re one of those people who can’t seem to keep New Year’s resolutions, don’t beat yourself up too much. You’re not alone, according to Jiuqing Cheng, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Northern Iowa.

“It is not that uncommon that people cannot keep their New Year’s resolutions, and I don’t think it is always a failure,” Cheng said in comments accompanying the WalletHub analysis.

For example, pregnancy can dramatically alter a family’s life, he said. Or, people may lose their jobs through no fault of their own.

“When things change, it is reasonable for people to adjust their expectations accordingly,” Cheng said.

But all that aside, “a big reason that people cannot meet their goals is because they tend to underestimate the complexity and difficulty of the goals,” Cheng said. “This is particularly true when the goals are complex and include multiple activities. For example, when planning to write a paper, if people simply focus on writing itself but do not take searching references, reading references, analyzing data, and/or seeking opinions from others into account, they would underestimate the time they need.”

To improve the chances of success, evaluate the complexity of goals and unpack them into specific steps, Cheng advised.

Arizona State University psychology Professor Adam Cohen suggested New Year’s resolutions that focus more on others than on self.

“Changing our lifestyles is really hard,” Cohen said. “Maybe instead of trying to become slimmer, we could focus on accepting ourselves for the way we are.

“Maybe try directing that New Year’s resolution energy, instead, to helping other people — to become more charitable or forgiving in the New Year,” he said. “That might make a bigger difference in all of our lives, than trying to fit into smaller jeans.”

Photo by Renee Schiavone/Patch

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