By Sarah Lange
January 1st marks the start of the 2018 year, and along with it comes the annual wave of increased initiative towards new habits, commonly referred to as “new year’s resolutions.” The idea of using the beginning of the year as an opportunity to implement routines has been around for a long time; it dates back over 4,000 years ago, when the Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of their calendar year, including decreasing the amount of debt they owed and increasing the amount of hours they would spend harvesting. Similar to the Babylonians, people in the 21st century often vow to uphold routines at the start of every year, routines that they believe will make them a more productive, happier, or healthier person. The most common resolution made, making up 48% of the answers collected in a new year’s resolutions survey conducted by OnePoll’s “Friend’s Life,” was to improve individual fitness and health. Second to this, with 43% of responses, were resolutions promising to spend more time with family and friends. The majority of those surveyed also assuredly responded that they were “95% confident” that their resolutions would stick until December.
However, people rarely find that their resolutions can be successfully enforced. According to Statistic Brain, only 41% of Americans usually make resolutions; the other 59% of Americans either make resolutions infrequently or never. The lack of those participating in new year’s resolutions is largely due to how rare one finds success with resolutions. Additional research by USNews confirms that only 20% of the new year’s habits last until the second week in February. Additionally, such a large importance on health-related resolutions results in a skyrocketing of gym memberships and healthy food sales at the beginning of the year; over the next few months, the sales drastically slow down over the next few months due to the overall loss of interest in resolutions. The rapid decline in these healthy habits after the month of January begs the question: what makes a resolution so hard to follow?
There are several factors that can prohibit the success of your new year’s resolutions, including having too many resolutions or making the goals too broad. Successful resolutions are those that are specific enough to be measured and broken down into smaller, more easily accomplished goals. These goals are easier to stick to and maintain. Further, starting the year with a healthy mindset regarding your resolutions can help you keep them around throughout the year. Allowing yourself some room for error and not losing hope after a mistake can promote a less strict and confining way of life. Beating yourself up after one mistake can often result in ditching the resolution altogether. The new year can be a time of self improvement through beneficial practices and helping others make progress as well. Staying focused and motivated on your personal goals can help make them last through the year.