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To Everything, Change ...

January 29, 2009 By:
Ben G. Frank, JE Feature
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It's been a month now since the natural optimism of a new year had everyone celebrating. Since then, President Obama has asked us to commit to an ongoing and, possibly, tougher economic climate.

Are those high-falutin' resolutions you vowed you'd keep a month ago still viable?

In these increasingly difficult economic times, is it easier/tougher to "manage debt, save money, earn more money and get a better job"?

While New York psychiatrists like Henry Paul and Yehuda Nir declare that, historically, resolutions are never kept, Paul hints at the possibility that with the economic downturn, some may just work, simply because "you have no money."

Making New Year's resolutions is one thing, fulfilling them another.

"Hard to keep," declares Nir, "because it is very difficult to restrain yourself when you crave more."

Resolutions, adds Nir, are "just a dream to undo what's happening."

Yet business circles predict that this year, more people are committed to making more -- and saving more.

In some cases, however, the negative business atmosphere will "not make a difference," declares Paul Jay Fink, professor of psychiatry at Temple University Medical School.

The difference, he says, will be whether people "have the personality to stick to their guns, or weaken and give in at the first chance."

Observes Allan (Geli) Gelfond, a social worker by training who has been a fundraiser and is now with the American Technion Society, in past years, "we may have resolved to save more money, which may have been a cursory statement back then; but, today, it's a matter of survival."

So, which is it going to be in this year of the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression: easier or harder to keep resolutions in a recession environment?

Short answer: "It depends."

For instance, says Fink, "If your brother-in-law calls you up and says let's go to an expensive restaurant, will you have the strength to say, 'Let's go to a little more moderate place'?"

Steve Stein of Stein's Famous Deli in Northeast Philadelphia insists that it's going to be easier this year to declare not to frequent expensive dining places. He notes that while his establishment is "doing fine," he's sure that expensive restaurants are "hurting."

"People are not going out to eat as much anymore, and take-out is on the rise," adds Stein.

Everyone Needs a Little R&R
How about vacationing? Lee Rosenbluth, president and CEO of Rosenbluth Vacations, actually thinks it will be easier to commit to a vacation.

"Trips and vacations are more important now than ever after all the stress and the negativity out there," says Rosenbluth, whose office is in Cherry Hill, N.J., "because prices are reflective of a down economy, and there are better deals out there -- more for your money now than in the last five years."

So, if you are going to try to keep those New Year's Resolutions as the new year starts becoming an old one, there are three steps to follow, according to Bernard Davidson, a family psychologist at the Medical College of Georgia Health System: Be committed, be prepared for setbacks and track your progress.

According to Bill Bertenshaw, host of "Community Concerns"on WOR radio in New York City, there is one resolution all of us will have to keep in this tumbling economy even as President Obama announces that things will get worse before they get better: "I/we will survive." 

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