For many, the start of the new year represents a new beginning, a fresh start. During this time, people look over the events of the past year and consider what they could have done better, or what they would want to change, and it is from this way of thinking that New Year’s resolutions are born.
The first recorded New Year’s resolutions were written in ancient Babylonia more than 4,000 years ago. Babylonians would make promises to the gods involving various things, such as returning objects they had previously borrowed, and if they upheld these promises, their gods would bestow favor upon them in the new year. Ancient Romans had a similar tradition, although their promises were made to the two-headed god Janus, said to look both into the past and the future. Despite religious beginnings, however, modern day resolutions are mostly secular. We make resolutions to ourselves, not to any higher power. Perhaps this is the reason they are so hard to follow through on.
More than 50% of Americans make resolutions each year, but only 20% say they’ve followed through on those resolutions. The reason for this is simply that many of the resolutions people make are not followed by a plan of action to actually follow through with their resolutions. Making a resolution without also formulating an action plan is a recipe for disaster, and the reason why many resolutions fail. Setting smaller goals that will lead you to your overarching resolution would be more helpful. For example, if your goal is to lose 30 pounds before June, set a smaller monthly goal of 5 pounds every month. Smaller goals don’t look as daunting, and it is easier for people to follow through on their resolutions and get the results they want if they take it step-by-step.
Resolutions that are unrealistic and unattainable will also put a damper on your holiday. While endeavoring to end world hunger is certainly a noble pursuit, it isn’t one that can be accomplished in one lifetime, much less in the span of one year. Setting goals that are realistic in relation to the timeframe will help you tremendously.
But while many people do, in fact, find it hard to follow through on New Year’s resolutions, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make them. Making resolutions and setting goals leads to increased growth as an individual and allows for the exploration of potential. By making resolutions, we show willingness and even desire for improvement. This signifies readiness to create positive change in ourselves as individuals, as well as positive change throughout our states, countries or even the world. The positive effects of setting resolutions are a good reason to at least try it out.
When making resolutions, stick to smaller, more specific goals that are easy for you to achieve. One way to do this would be to set a small resolution for each month of the year. In January, the goal could be to drink soda only on weekends; in February, to start eating breakfast in the morning at least twice per week. As time goes on, increase these goals; don’t drink soda at all during the week and eat breakfast every morning. Taking baby steps and going slow are the keys to success when setting goals. If you take the necessary measures to achieve your goals, setting resolutions and keeping them will be much easier.
This year, New Year’s Day represents not only the beginning of a new year, but the beginning of a new decade. There is no better time to reflect on changes that need to be made or things that could have been done better than during the new year, which is why so many people set New Year’s resolutions.
If we take it slow and don’t give up, we can all fulfill our resolutions, and in turn set the foundations for both a better year and a better decade to come.
Kate Morano is a junior at Morris Central School. Readers can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.