What are these? Where did they come from? Who really cares? Have you ever wondered who was the brilliant mind behind New Year’s resolutions? Well I have the answer for you:
Wikipedia defines New Year’s Resolutions as: a commitment that a person makes to one or more personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit.
Ok, that’s not a bad thing. Improving yourself is always a good thing. Getting rid of bad habits is always encouraged. But where did making resolutions come from? Interestingly enough, it comes religion:
- The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts.
- The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.
- In the Medieval Era, the knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to re-affirm their commitment to chivalry.
- At watchnight services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions.
- There are other religious parallels to this tradition. During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. People may act similarly during the Catholic fasting period of Lent, though the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility, in fact the practice of New Year’s resolutions partially came from the Lenten sacrifices. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.
- At the end of the Great Depression, about a quarter of American adults formed New Year’s resolutions. At the start of the 21st century, about 40% did.
2013’s Top 10 Resolutions
- Eat healthy and exercise regularly.
- Drink Less.
- Learn Something New.
- Quit Smoking.
- Better Work/Life Balance.
- Save Money.
- Get Organized.
- Read More.
- Finish those around the house “to-do” lists.
Resolution Success Rate
A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying “lose weight”), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.
Quoting Frank Ra (author of the new year’s resolution book “A course in happiness”): “Resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution. Peer-support makes a difference in success rate with new year’s resolutions”.
My Take on Resolutions
With all respect to those that do make resolutions, I don’t and I haven’t for as long as I can remember. I see resolutions as forceful and unmotivated, and as such setting yourself up for failure. To make a change in your own well being, you don’t need a date, or time frame to accomplish it. You just need to want it, and have will power to say enough. You don’t need to start at the beginning of the year, week, or even day. Like I said before, tell yourself enough, and get on with it without any excuses.
Share with me, do you make resolutions? If you do, do you stick to them?