Every December 31st, I’ll sit down for a brief moment and write down (or make a note in my phone) a few resolutions for the coming year. One year, I went so far as to make a post on an old blog and Facebook. Not surprisingly, I wasn’t exactly “successful” at most of these, if not all. The fantastic part is, that is typical. If you join me in the ranks of resolution makers and breakers, you are definitely not alone. Studies from last year are showing that only about 12% of resolution makers are able to keep them successfully throughout the year. The fun part? It turns out that the making, and subsequent breaking, of resolutions is far from a new “tradition”.
Resolution making has been around as long as the celebration of a New Year. The ancient Babylonians (the very same who are attributed with the earliest New Year’s parties) were said to have made promises to the gods (usually to pay off debts and return borrowed farming equipment) to earn their favor for the coming year. Sounds familiar, yes? I always make resolutions to save more, spend less, or throw more money at my student loan.
The idea of the resolution has grown, a bit, since ancient times and we’ve expanded what we resolve to do. Last year the top ten resolutions were: Lose weight, get organized, spend less/save more, enjoy life to the fullest, stay fit/healthy, learn something exciting, quit smoking, help others in their dreams, fall in love, and spend more time with family. About 45% of Americans make resolutions. We also break resolutions almost as if it were tradition too; the top ten broken resolutions are: lose weight/get fit, quit smoking, learn something new, eat healthier/diet, spend less/save more/debt reduction, spend more time with family, travel to new places, be less stressed, volunteer, and drink less. So…it would seem that the most popular resolutions to break are typically those most broken. But, some people are actually successful and have shared their keys to success.
According to researcher MIchael Kitchens (asst. professor of psychology), the key to success starts with your head. Limiting yourself to a few resolutions, being specific, or setting specific goals with and end will help. Also, if you’ve got a long term goal, such as weight loss, regular monitoring could be helpful. If you do have goals that require routines to stay focused, find ways to enjoy the routine and keep it lively (change parts of it up so you don’t get bored). If you get off track, get back on as soon as possible; it only gets harder the longer you are away from a routine. Finally, sometimes making it “public” can help motivate you and those you share it with will be more inclined to help you!
What are some of your resolutions?
Happy New Year, and good luck to you all with your resolutions!
My research is here!