Now that the holidays are over and another year draws to a close, it’s time to start thinking about changes we want to make in the next year. Whether we view the beginning of a new year as a …
Now that the holidays are over and another year draws to a close, it’s time to start thinking about changes we want to make in the next year. Whether we view the beginning of a new year as a chance to metaphorically wipe the slate clean and start afresh, or too much holiday cheer has taken its toll, ‘tis the season to make resolutions to rid ourselves of bad habits.
The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions began over 4,000 years ago in pre-Christian times, with the Babylonians who celebrated the beginning of the New Year in March. They believed if they made promises to the gods to improve their behavior it would help them start the New Year off on the right foot.
The calendar was later changed to January by the Romans when Julius Caesar introduced the Julian calendar, which closely represents the modern calendar we use today. It was Caesar who declared January 1 the first day of the year to honor the god Janus, the two-faced god who looks backward into the old year and forward into the new. That is why New Year’s Eve is a time to reflect on the past, but more importantly, to plan for the future. The Romans, like the Babylonians, would make promises to Janus about changing their behavior for the next year. History doesn’t report their success rate, but it probably wasn’t much better than Americans today. Research suggests that about 75 percent of people stick to their goals for at least a week and less than half are still on target six months later.
Yet, there is always hope. New Year’s resolutions can be a perfect opportunity to sit down and prepare a list of important lifestyle changes you want to make.
Here are a few of the most popular new year resolutions:
So why do New Year’s resolutions tend to fail?
Most of the time, it’s because there was no clear goal or the goal was unreasonable. The secret to success is to be specific about what you want to achieve.
For example, the number-one resolution every year is to lose weight and eat healthier, and it is also one of the most commonly broken resolutions. The main problem is trying unrealistic dieting gimmicks that lead to lack of control later on: “I’m going to lose 10 pounds in 10 days.”
Don’t do it alone. Avoid joining a gym on your own; instead set up an exercise routine with a buddy. It’s hard to come up with excuses not to go if someone is depending on you showing up.
If you want to save more money or get out of debt, develop a spending plan by tracking your spending, and use cash whenever you can.
Want to quit drinking or smoking in the New Year? It is no easy feat. Avoid quitting cold turkey (alcohol, specifically, especially if you’re an addict). Find a support group. Quitting can be more successful when taken in stages.
Remember changing habits takes time, but nothing changes if nothing changes.