It’s the beginning of the year, a time of self-reflection and improvement. Maybe you want to learn a new skill, start on that book from your lengthy “reading list,” eat healthier, or plan your next vacation. Whatever your goal is, you’re determined to follow through and enjoy a fresh start of the New Year.
The status quo is not good enough; normal will never do. You’re seeking to improve yourself and your surroundings. Like you, millions of people across the world are setting goals and have done so throughout generations and centuries.
A Brief History
At the beginning of the year, the ancient Romans made promises and gave gifts to their god Janus, the god of beginnings, from which the word “January” derives. Similarly, the Babylonians made promises to pay their debts and return borrowed items.
Making New Year’s resolutions took many forms but endured throughout the ages and across various cultures. It ultimately found its way into the modern world, including the U.S., where it has been growing in popularity within the last few decades.
Today 45 percent of Americans start New Year’s resolutions; however, a mere 8 percent ever finish them. As an example, the top ten most commonly broken resolutions, according to TIME, are the following:
1. Lose Weight and Get Fit
2. Quit Smoking
3. Learn Something New
4. Eat Healthier and Diet
5. Get Out of Debt and Save Money
6. Spend More Time with Family
7. Travel to New Places
8. Be Less Stressed
10. Drink Less
New Year’s resolutions, while easy to make, are also easy to break. Only the few, the 8 percent, persevere. So, below are a few tips that will help you reach your goals this new year.
The Fewer, the Better
It’s tempting to make several resolutions. It seems as though you’d have a better chance of keeping one if many were made. But this is not so. According to Social Psychologist Roy Baumeister, every time you focus on any one of your resolutions, it makes it easier to neglect the others.
Making too many resolutions undermines your success and drains your willpower. So, this year make two or three resolutions. You’ll have a greater chance at keeping them.
Keep It Easy
That’s right. Easy. The purpose of making a New Year’s resolution is not to change your life overnight, or even over the course of 365 days. The purpose is to recognize the necessity of progress and experience personal development.
Therefore, before you commit to run a marathon, consider taking smaller steps first. Perhaps, pledge to jog three times each week. A simple, manageable goal is easier to honor.
Tell a Friend
Before it’s too late, share your New Year’s resolutions with a friend, family member, or colleague. It’s helpful to have a supporting voice hold you accountable.
Celebrate the Milestones
The road to improvement isn’t always easy. It’s an ongoing process filled at times with challenges. It’s critical to reinforce the milestones and celebrate the small victories along the way. It will make goal-setting a more enjoyable process.
I wish you the wisdom to select your New Year’s resolutions well and the perseverance to keep them! May you form good habits and experience success and enjoyment throughout the new year!
Lennox, Doug (2007). Now You Know Big Book of Answers one of the amazing thing. Toronto: Dundurn. p. 250.
Julia Jasmine (1998). Multicultural Holidays. Teacher Created Resources. p. 116.
Written by Justin Stephens. Edited by Andrei Duta. This article first appeared in Andrei’s Newsletter.