Origins of the tradition
The traces to this tradition are going back far away approximately 4000 years ago when ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed farm equipment and pay their debts. Later on, a tradition continued with ancient Romans (regardless of occupation) who offered their resolutions to Janus, the god of beginnings, endings and the New Year. During watchnight services, many Christians were preparing for the year ahead by praying and making these resolutions nad as studies suggest this was more common in countries with a strong Protestant influence.
Nowadays, the resolutions are more related to western cultures, though, more and more people, especially youth, all around the world are also doing them. Of course, they are dependent on a time we live in, general trends (for example, currently flying less or live zero waste, etc) and cultural features (which values and things that are more valuable in one or another country/community).
Statistics and assessments
The research says that in 2019 around 60 % of the people were doing the New Year’s Resolutions with less than 25% of people who stayed committed to their resolutions already after January, and barely 8 % were successful in achieving them. I was really curious about this and asked in a form of small survey my friends and acquaintances whether they are doing so or not and received very exciting outcomes.
Half of the people who did my survey were in the age of 27-45 years old, mainly based in Europe, and by the occupation typical respond was an employee. 75 % of the people admitted that they were doing New Year’s resolutions regularly or at least once in life, some mentioned that they are initiating resolutions during another period, like Birthday. Sadly, but 40 % of people skipped resolutions during the year or forgot where did they put them. At the same time, some people still reviewed initial ones and even added further.
The most popular resolutions were: exercise more and follow healthy diet (unexpected!?), learn a new skill or hobby and surprisingly read more! Among the other specific ones: to pray every day and to remember more about other people, to give more than to take, do volunteering and traveling, respect and compassionate yourself. Preponderance of respondents makes from 2 to 5 resolutions; however some people are also setting more than 10 goals! And at the end around 80 % of the asked people told that they accomplished some or majority of the resolutions. Definitely, my findings are not representative till the end as shows only small group of people in my environment.
At one point creating a resolutions and trying to follow them can be encouraging, nevertheless as a statistics explicates most of the people are not thriving. But why does this happen? Probably because we are setting up non-realistic goals according to our present mood. For instance, we ate and drank a lot during the Christmas time, thus doing exercises are pretty common resolution, we are on holidays and barely doing something for university or work. Thus, in such relaxed mood it is easier to be positive about all the things that are awaits for the success and higher productiveness. At the other point, disappointment of not being able to accomplish the resolutions can also make a huge influence on your mental health, which differs for the people with various level of self-efficacy and control.
Some sources are even giving tips on how to make New Year’s resolution victorious and plausible. Those are mainly include: believe in yourself and own willpower, specifying the resolutions (not just to eat healthy, but for example to add 1 apple to the meals everyday), choosing for yourself possible goals (not like to run a marathon when you’ve never done jogging), take into consideration own limits and weak points, allowing sometimes to fail. Since most of the young people are active users of social media, for some it can an excellent idea to make it public and in this way got extra motivation and inspiration from outside.
Need some ideas?
As it was mentioned earlier, the New Year’s resolutions are various for different cultures as well as for various ages. For young people more likely resolutions can be about finding better job, learning new skill or language, travel and volunteer more. There plenty of examples that can guide young people in their search for new goals and aims for the new year.
Some of them can be vague, broad and abstract, such as: stop judging people, reduce stress, stop procrastinating. However, the endeavours that people put could be even more fulfilling that the achievement of those non-measurable goals. As you may notice in some cases, I was naming resolutions as goals, because personally I try to set up something more clear and specific, which is goals that make me energized and ready for action. Among the others, prioritizing those goals without extra multitasking, monitor and observe your changes, defining small check points and award yourself can be another strategy for the consistency and more exceptional outcomes.
Overall, there can be different even opposite opinion among young people about New Year’s resolutions, but generally speaking start of the New Year brings us a lot of ideas and inspires to become best version of our future selves. The most essential thing in this process is not to forget to live with a joy and content of what we are trying to achieve and change the plan if you don’t feel comfortable or when some external forces come into power. Remember, we are only humans, but we are the ones who take full responsibility about our lives (which when you are young seems to last forever...). Hope that everyone entered the New Year with no pressure on their shoulders, but with knowledge about own potential and appreciation of the achievements that were never planned!