Resolutions in 2021



By Mary Ellen Christy



The custom of making resolutions as a part of the observance of New Year’s traditions can be traced all the way back to 4000BC in Babylonia. The Babylonian calendar marked the transition to a new year in the month of March which was the beginning of the planting season.  A common resolution was to improve one’s financial future through the reduction of debt.  Thus begs the question that despite the passage of thousands of years, the human spirit continues to have similar hopes and aspirations.


Ancient Babylonian Art


Steve Kornacki, who has been dubbed the “chart throb” because of his extensive work as a pollster during the 2020 election season, appeared on the Today Show with charts comparing resolutions in 2020 to those made in 2021.


Steve Kornacki


In 2020 the three most common resolutions were:

  1. Exercise
  2. Save money
  3. Travel

In 2021 the top three are:

  1. Exercise
  2. Travel
  3. Improve Finances.

A distant fourth in both years was finding love or friendship. 

There is little doubt in my mind that the increased desire to travel is directly correlated to the many months of lockdown.

Mr. Kornacki then presented a chart which showed percentages of people making resolutions by age group.  It demonstrated that hope is substantially higher in younger people.  Generation “Z” for example had a 92% participation rate but by the time he got to baby boomers and what he called the silent generation (people born from 1928-1945), boomers scored at 60% and the silent generation at 52%. Clearly, the implication is that the hope and positivity so inherent in the practice of making New Year’s resolutions is more characteristic of the young.

Although I am certainly not young, I remember vividly my excitement of a year ago when the calendar changed from 2019 to 2020. I thought it might be a year of 20-20 “perfect vision” but as we all know, it unfolded as one of the worst years in one hundred years due to the pandemic.

Children are by nature forward-looking and positive creatures. They are perfect candidates for making resolutions.   Why not hold a family meeting and have everyone share their ideas for both personal and family resolutions?  There are many things that can be incorporated into a family routine to provide exercise for all ages.  Perhaps you may want to take a brisk family walk after dinner each night, if the children are old enough this could become a jog.  (This does not mean that parents should eliminate daily trips to the gym or Zoom classes that provide more targeted forms of exercise!)

So far, this winter has had weather that has been pretty conducive to outdoor activity, but as soon as the snow comes, younger children consider shoveling snow to be the greatest fun ever. Bundle them up and let them ”have at it”.  Snow shoveling is a very aerobic activity and they will soon be nice and toasty.  The plastic child-size snow shovels are available at both drug and hardware stores and are not only inexpensive but also really do the trick.  Even when the weather worsens, real Midwesterners subscribe to the belief that “there is no such thing as bad weather — only bad clothing!”  Ice skating is another excellent choice.  Most park district programs have opportunities for skating as well as Millennium Park, the Midway Plaisance Ice Rink, and if your children are older, the Maggie Daley Ice Skating Ribbon.  What is different this year, is that you must make a reservation to skate so that facilities can remain Covid-19 Compliant.



Many swimming pools are also open with the same requirements that times of use are scheduled and time slots are restricted.  If possible, schedule a regular time so that this becomes part of your weekly routine.  Does everyone remember the phrase “15 days to flatten the curve?”  For most people that has morphed into gaining the Covid-15 (pounds).  So, whatever you choose as a form of exercise, just making that first move will make everyone begin to feel better.



The second most common resolution to do more traveling is equally understandable.  Yearning for travel is a natural result of what has now stretched to eleven months of lockdown.  At this time, most parents are beleaguered, trying to juggle working remotely or going to work and finding adequate childcare for children who are learning remotely.  Thus, planning a trip to Cancun or some other exotic spot offering sun, surf, sand and fun may be out of the question. But, day trips from home are certainly not.  If you have older children, assign them the task of googling day trips in and around the metropolitan Chicago area and see what surprising things they may come up with.  Younger children can help them sift through the ideas and there can be a discussion around the dinner table (or at that next family meeting) to select some choices.  It should not surprise you that there are ski opportunities, nature trails and a wide variety of special interest museums including one devoted exclusively to dinosaurs and several to trains.  This lucky family on horseback traveled only a half-hour by car from their Lincoln Park home to enjoy a ride through a winter wonderland.



Along with my business partner in our Academic Consulting business, we hope that our clients who have children enrolled in CPS schools will be able to return to in-person learning.  With the availability of the Covid-19 vaccine, we hope that all teachers, CTU officials and our elected leaders have included in their personal resolutions a commitment to reopen CPS Schools.  Millions of dollars have been spent installing plexiglass barriers and state of the art ionization systems to purify the air to create a safe environment for staff and students.  Last August, Paul Vallas, former CEO of CPS who rose to national prominence as a thought leader in the field of education stated definitively that schools must open for the benefit of students and with measures to safeguard staff who are more vulnerable with alternative assignments.  Mr. Vallas went on to say that it was unconscionable to deny an education to those who are most in need of it.  He knows of what he speaks, having overcome the challenges of learning difficulties in his youth and rising to a place of distinction his field.  He is a living example that “A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste.”  Let us remember this as we move forward into the New Year.


Paul Vallas