According to a recent study, only eight percent of Americans successfully keep their New Year’s resolutions throughout the year.
That means that the perennial number one resolution, “lose weight,” is a perennial loser. I’m guessing it’s knocked out in the first round — or first week in this case — by leftover Christmas cookies and wintertime cravings for lasagna and mashed potatoes smothered in gravy, sometimes at the same meal.
The perennial number two, “Getting organized,” is always my first resolution, and the first to be broken. For example, it took me 15 minutes of sorting through assorted papers to find the results of this study. But I’m pretty sure I’ll be organized by, well, 2016.
The number three resolution, at least for 2014 (according to the study by the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology), was “spend less, save more.” Hahahahahahaha.
I like number four: “live life to the fullest,” especially if it involves eating lasagna and mashed potatoes at the same meal. Or, more to the point of this post, traveling more. Now that’s a resolution I can get behind.
After digging around some more in my piles of paper, I found the results of another study, this one by researchers at Cornell University, that showed that spending money on experiences rather than things gives you more bang for your happiness buck.
As summarized in an article on Time.com, the study concluded: “If you’re conflicted about whether to spend money on a material good (say, a computer) or personal experience (say, a vacation), the research shows you’ll get much more satisfaction — and for longer — if you choose the experience.”
In short, as I interpret this, taking a (memorable) vacation is regarded as money better spent than, say, buying a new sofa.
As the Time.com piece points out, “This might seem counter-intuitive,” because the sofa (or other material good) “will still be there long after the experience would have been enjoyed… But psychologically it’s the reverse. We quickly adapt to the material good, but the experience endures in the memories we cherish, the stories we tell and the very sense of who we are.”
I would add that the sofa might quickly be scratched to shreds by your pet cats should you have any (as we do), but I digress.
Though I may sit on my sofa while reminiscing about my past travels, the point is that I’m reminiscing about traipsing around Europe or cruising in Southeast Asia rather than reminiscing about how great it was to buy the sofa that day we went to the furniture store at the mall and grabbed a burger at the food court. The sofa becomes part of the furniture, as it were. Your travel experiences become part of you, which won’t ever be hawked at a garage sale.
The other good thing about making “traveling more” your New Year’s resolution is that you can pretty easily stick to it all year round.
If you don’t hit the Caribbean in January, there’s always February or March, etc. You can book an African safari now and have eight months to look forward to viewing the great migration of wildebeest in the Serengeti in late summer. You can resolve to finally visit that national park you’ve always wanted to see, or just take a driving trip to see parts of your own region that you’ve missed in the past. And then do it, whenever the time allows.
Being a cruise fan, who also writes about them, I’m already planning four for 2015: a western Mediterranean cruise in late February aboard an Italian liner, a French West Indies windjammer cruise in May, a Lake Michigan small-ship cruise in July, and a Danube river cruise in September.
I hereby resolve to take all these cruises, once I locate the paperwork.
See? That’s much easier than going to the gym or cutting out dessert. Chances are, you won’t do those things anyway past mid-January, at the latest.
But wherever your travels may take you this year, cherish the memories and they’ll repay your investment 100 times over for many years to come.
And happy 2015 to all.