Dropping the ball after the Ball Drop on Times Square: All about not keeping New Year resolutions

Most people know about the “Ball Drop” on Times Square. And if they happen to be there, they take selfies, post pictures on Facebook as proof of their presence. However, there is another event called “dropping the ball;” takes a place within a couple of weeks of New Year’s eve. Yet, no one wants to talk about that experience, no tweets, no photos on Facebook, not a peep. Because when someone drops the ball, one is strangely absent from that event.




And how do I take a selfie when I am absent?


If i-phone found the answer to that one, then Apple will be richer, and thanks to technology not the cheap Chinese job market; and we can genuinely go back to worshipping Jobs.


But then there is photoshop already. So why are we subjected to selfies in public when all of these selfie-takers could have just photo-shopped in private.


The ball has dropped on that one… I hear you say.




The Ball Drop, on Times Square, is one of the most well-known New Year’s celebrations globally, thanks to Hollywood and televised News Year’s Eve specials broadcast by various channels. First held on Dec 31, 1907, by Adolph Ochs, owner of The New York Times newspaper to promote the building as the new headquarters the ball drop has been held annually since. It is estimated that nearly a million people gather at Times Square on December 31st to see a lighted ball begin its descent down a specially designed 141 feet pole at 11:59:00 p.m. eastern time, and rest at midnight to herald the start of a new year, a fresh slate, a new beginning. Fresh and inspired after the ball drop, many decide they have to drop a few bad balls or habits in their own life. People are inspired to make resolutions.



Recent surveys have found that nearly 45% of Americans and 33% of Britons usually make New Year’s resolutions, and about 17% make them infrequently. Thus almost 3 in 5 people make a resolution. It has also been found that most resolutions are of the self-improvement variety, and within self-improvement is of the physical health category, such as: I will drop my slothfulness, my TV-couching and perk up with physical activities or exercise; I will shed those extra pounds of flab; I will stop eating those pizzas, burgers, junk food and start picking up more greens and vegetables. A few resolutions are of the stop shopping and start saving variety; while another group is the one that wants to have healthy relationships.


And people start the New Year with vigor and a walk in the park.


However, come February, and the steely resolve made in the din and noise of the Ball Drop is quietly forgotten. There is another event that happens to most of these resolvers but is not celebrated globally. Most people, in fact, do not want to talk about it, leave alone make it public and that is called: Dropping the Ball.


The “Dropping the ball” event happens a few weeks after New Year’s Day; usually around Valentine’s Day. And the surveys show that nearly 50% of people who made a resolution on New Year’s Day say they are unsuccessful and give up in a matter of weeks.


However, there is hope, yet, because 8% of New Year resolvers claim to be successful.


What is the secret of their success?


Various authors have given various reasons ranging from keeping it short, simple, tangible and not making an exhaustive bucket list of things to do while some ask you to completely focus on the task at hand, prioritize the task and minimize distractions.


However a recent article in the Journal of Consumer Psychology (Dec 2015) found that asking people a question about performing a target behavior influences future performance of that behavior. This is called the “question-behavior effect.” Dave Sprott, senior associate dean of Carson College of Business and study co-author said: “If you question a person about performing a future behavior, the likelihood of that behavior happening will change.” The researchers arrived at this conclusion after conducting a meta-analytic synthesis of 104 “question-behavior effect” studies across 51 published and unpublished papers.


So the secret to being successful at achieving resolutions lies in crafting interrogative sentences or asking a question about the desired behavior such as: “Will I eat healthy — yes or no?” than making declarative or imperative statements such as: “I will eat healthy.” Interestingly asking a questions works both for change in oneself as well as people whose behavior we may want to influence.


So what resolutions do we make for ourselves this year at the time of the ball drop?


We found that most people’s resolutions were of this nature: I will make my world a better place.


However, this year, you are better informed thanks to advancements in science. Ensure you convert your resolution into a question. And do not just ask questions to yourself. Feel free to ask questions to the ones you love and the ones you do not.


For once ask yourself and your loved and hated ones: Did I / you make the world a better place? Did I / we let that ball drop?




© The Essayist, 2016



REFERENCES for the body of the article


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