A New Year’s resolution is a commitment that an individual makes to one or more lasting personal goals, projects, or the reforming of a habit. According to Gretchen Rubin (author of best-seller “The Happiness Project”): “You hit a goal, you achieve a goal. You keep a resolution”.
This lifestyle change is generally interpreted as advantageous. A New Year’s Resolution is generally a goal someone sets out to accomplish in the coming year. Some examples include resolutions to donate to the poor more often, to become more assertive, or to become more environmentally responsible. A key element to a New Year’s Resolution that sets it apart from other resolutions is that it is made in anticipation of the New Year, and new beginnings. At watch night services, many Christians prepare for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions.
There are other religious parallels to this tradition. During Judaism’s New Year, Rosh Hashanah, through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), one is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year and both seek and offer forgiveness. People may act similarly during the Christian fasting period of Lent, though the motive behind this holiday is more of sacrifice than of responsibility. The concept, regardless of creed, is to reflect upon self-improvement annually.
Popular goals include resolutions to:
- Improve health: lose weight, exercise more, eat better, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, stop biting nails
- Improve finances: get out of debt, save money
- Improve career: get a better job
- Improve education: improve grades, get a better education, learn something new (such as a foreign language or music), study often,
- Improve self: become more organized, reduce stress, be less grumpy, manage time, be more independent, perhaps watch less television, play less sitting-down video games
- Take a trip
- Volunteer to help others, practice life skills, use civic virtue, give to charity
For the year 2012, the top 5 resolutions, as identified by a survey are:
- Be financially-savvy
- Read at least one book per month
- Eat properly
- Get enough sleep
- Keep a journal of awesome moments
Recent research shows that while 52% of participants in a resolution study were confident of success with their goals, only 12% actually achieved their goals. A separate study in 2007 by Richard Wisemen from the University of Bristol showed that 78% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, and those who succeed have 5 traits in common. Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, (a system where small measurable goals are being set; such as, a pound a week, instead of saying “lose weight”), while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.