Americans abandoning traditional New Year’s resolutions for 2021, focus on less materialistic ‘intentions’ instead

NEW YORK — The start of the new year means many Americans will dust off the old treadmill, join a gym, or stock up the fridge with loads of fruits and veggies. But that’s so old school. With an immensely challenging year behind them, seven in 10 adults say they are tossing out their materialistic New Year’s resolutions for 2021, according to new research.

The survey asked a nationally-representative panel of 2,000 Americans about their plans for the new year in light of the stress from 2020. Results show that 71% will be focusing on learning life skills or practical goals. In fact, top planned New Year’s resolutions for 2021 aren’t focused on going to the gym or losing weight, but rather saving money for the future (62%) and learning a new skill (50%).

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Affirm, the survey also finds that over half of respondents (54%) are planning to better budget in 2021 and another 49 percent are hoping to pay down debt. Sixty-eight percent of respondents want to move away from “traditional” resolutions to focus more on experiences – like spending more time with their family (53%) and traveling more (49%).

Finances, positivity, life skills among top New Year’s ‘intentions’ for 2021

In fact, respondents plan to take an average of two road trips in the new year. Nearly six in 10 (58%) of respondents also say their 2021 resolution will be having a more positive outlook on life.

Reflecting on such a difficult year, it makes sense that respondents are approaching their 2021 resolutions differently. Sixty-five percent don’t even plan on looking at these as “resolutions,” but rather “intentions” for the new year.

Seven in 10 respondents also don’t plan on setting harsh deadlines to achieve their new goals, but they’ll rather be checking in with themselves throughout 2021. Sixty-two percent also can’t wait to tackle the new year with a fresh mindset and renewed motivation after feeling stagnant all throughout 2020.

And with this renewed motivation, 63 percent believe their personal finances will be better off in 2021 than they were at the end of 2020. This also may be connected to the 43 percent of respondents who say they learned to be more intentional about their purchases in 2020 and plan to take these experiences with them in 2021.

“It is no surprise that people are focusing their upcoming New Year’s resolutions on taking control of their finances in 2021 given all the experiences that they had to put on hold in 2020,” said Silvija Martincevic, Chief Commercial Officer at Affirm. “We expect to see much more intentional spending in 2021 as people attempt to make up for what they missed out on this year!”

Even though respondents are feeling optimistic about 2021, 53 percent worry they won’t be able to afford to pursue all of their new goals and resolutions. However, the majority (58%) agree that pay-over-time solutions allow them to better budget and one third (32%) plan on using one to fund their goals.

In order to stay committed to their goals for 2021, 45 percent of respondents plan to set checkpoints throughout the year to measure their progress and 44 percent will create a game plan of specific steps for each of their new goals.