We all make New Year Resolutions either in our heads or write it down but how many of us stick to them?
On History, they explain that the ancient Babylonians are said to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions, some 4,000 years ago. They were also the first to hold recorded celebrations in honour of the new year—though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March when the crops were planted. During a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions. If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favour on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favour—a place no one wanted to be.
However, Trafalgar points out that Modern New Year’s resolutions are largely materialistic, with most people making resolutions to themselves rather than promising gods. The focus is mainly on self-improvement, with people taking time to reflect on their goals.
Today’s resolutions are often health-focused, driven by the indulgence of the Christmas period. The symbology of the New Year also makes it a great time to wipe the slate clean and start fresh after December 31st.
At least 40% of people in the United States set New Year’s resolutions, while 27% of people in the UK aim for self-improvement with a resolution. While the majority of Americans age 45 and younger plan to make a New Year’s resolution, only 28% of those 45 and older will vow to make a change.
According to a new survey by YouGov, 27% of Brits will be doing this and at the top of the list for the largest share of people is the classic ‘more exercise/improving fitness’ with 47% saying this has at some point been their resolution.
Despite having over 4,000 years of practice, these figures aren’t likely to improve any time soon. Experts say we’re doomed to fail when making New Year’s resolutions thanks to unrealistic expectations.
Oxford Mail writes their top common New Year Resolutions include exercise more, losing weight, improving diet, saving more money, taking up a new hobby, cutting down on alcohol, giving up smoking/vaping, pursuing a career ambition, decorating/renovating the home, spending more time with family.
I definitely pursue some from the above lists every New Years Day. This year I plan to write two lists one for the first half of 2022 and another for the second half of 2022. That way the list does not look as daunting.
The problem is that we set sky-high goals that quickly become overwhelming, and we fail to make a plan to achieve these goals. The key to completing your resolution is to break it down into small, tangible steps. Instead of saying, “I want to get fit”, set a specific goal like going to a gym class every Monday and Wednesday.
I will write down my New Year goals in another post with my plan on how to achieve them. I hope that by doing it that way I might get through them all and I will also write a post on my successes or failures along the way. Encouragement from anyone will just help spur me on so if anyone else wants to join me in this campaign then do let me know and we can keep each other posted on how we are doing. The more the merrier as they say.