Welcome 2018! A new year always brings the infamous idea of the New Year’s resolution. I began to wonder how this came about, what are the most popular resolutions, and how long it takes for the average person to stick to their resolutions. Of course, the changing of one year to another can be symbolic and offer hope for a change. Many people reflect on their past year and contemplate about what they want to do differently in the upcoming year. Others make the traditional resolutions like losing weight to become healthier or taking more time for self-care.
According to the History Channel, “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 honor of the new year—though for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted.” They would make promises to their gods that they would start the year off in the right way, in a good way. It does make sense that with a new year would come a fresh start and it does, just by its nature alone, provide a sense of hope, new beginnings, or a clean slate.
By definition a resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. It is a strong commitment that a person is making, with the good intention of keeping the commitment. The goal, of course, is to improve their life in some way in the upcoming year. So, what are some of the most popular resolutions people make?
According to a survey conducted by 24/7 Wall St., the top eleven resolutions for 2018 included: find a better job, find love, do more good deeds for others, learn new things, work out more often, spend more time with family and close friends, do more exciting things, quit smoking, make better financial decisions, life and self improvements, and eat healthier and lose weight. To me, these seem like great goals to choose from for a new year and fresh start, but the big question is not what the commitments are. Rather, do people stick to them and for how long?
The findings of the same survey showed that approximately 132.5 million Americans, which is about 41% of the population, make a New Year’s resolution. Sadly, the data from the survey revealed that only about 9% will have some form of success and almost 40% will not even make it beyond January in sticking to their commitment.
At first, I was surprised by this shocking revelation, but then I realized how hard some of these goals may be to achieve. Many of them are beyond the individual’s control, like finding love or a better job. In analyzing the top eleven resolutions for 2018, I could see realistic goal-setting for me to include doing more good deeds for others, learning new things, and spending more time with my family and close friends. I think these are feasible for me as a person and things that I already strive to improve upon even when a new year has not marked a new beginning for me.
So, what about the other 132.5 million Americans who will try and stick to their New Year’s Resolution? What are the tricks and tips for those who want to make a positive change in their life in the upcoming year? Some research led me to a nicely laid out ten-point plan for sticking to your goals devised by Professor Wiseman of the University of Hertfordshire. His ten-point plan is concrete and simple and may help many to be more successful in their endeavors.
His ten point plan includes: only make one resolution, don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to set your goal, don’t attempt previously failed resolutions, don’t base your goal on what everyone else is doing, break your goal into a series of time-based steps, tell your friends and family what you’re aiming for, regularly remind yourself of the benefits, give yourself small rewards for achieving your each step, make your plans and progress concrete by writing it down, and expect to have small setbacks but don’t make these a reason to give up altogether. I find his plan to be simple and concrete, which should increase success rates. I think the most helpful one could be telling others what you are aiming for because just saying it out loud somehow makes you feel more accountable.
Another helpful tip is expecting setbacks but not giving up because many people could view a slip up as failure and not realize it could just be a one time thing. If they could recognize this then they would realize that they could still do it, forgive themselves, and move on. Positive reinforcement is also known to be extremely effective so people should reward themselves for success. Loved ones should praise them as well to keep them motivated, especially for something as difficult as quitting smoking or losing weight. Since reviewing the ten point plan, I see I already need to change my resolutions to just one so I can be successful. I choose to do more good deeds to others. I followed the plan by telling others. I will make it manageable by setting a realistic time frame by expecting once a month from myself and if I achieve more, that’s even better! I will monitor my progress by writing it down. I will forgive myself if one month gets too hectic and I forget, but I will try to make it up the following month with two acts of kindness.
Happy New Year! Good luck to everyone who has made a New Year’s resolution. I wish you luck in the upcoming year. Review the tips if you slip up and if you are the majority of the population – who, for whatever reason, is not successful – remember, there is always 2019 right around the corner!