New Year’s Resolutions: In Through One Year, Out Through the Other

About 4,000 years ago the Babylonians celebrated the 11-day Atiku Festival, after the Spring Equinox by making promises to get on the right side of all their gods and start the new year off on the right foot. Resolutions like these continued when Julius Caesar introduced the Julian Calendar and declared January first the first day of the year, a day to honor the god of new beginnings, Janus. Now every New Year’s celebration we make resolutions in hopes to improve the next year, so much so that in 2013 Google launched a Resolution Map.

In fact, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute, about 41% of Americans usually make New Year’s resolutions. However, only 9.2% of Americans, at the end of the year, feel that they have achieved their resolutions, 48.4% feel that they have infrequent success in achieving their New Year’s resolutions, and 42.4% feel that they completely fail to meet their resolution.

Many people attribute this overwhelming failure of New Year’s resolutions to the New Year being an arbitrary date, and to people aiming too high or setting too many resolutions with no focus. Some people establish very hard resolutions without setting short-term goals to help them meet their main resolution. This leads to many resolutions fizzling out very quickly; only 72.6% of resolutions are maintained through the first week, and only 44.8% of resolutions are maintained after six months.

However, despite most people ultimately failing to achieve their New Year’s resolutions, there does seem to be an advantage in making them. People who explicitly state their resolutions are actually ten  times more likely to attain their goals at some point, than people who don’t, Even though the New Year is an arbitrary date, Dr. Joan Duffy, a clinical psychologist, explains that it “gives us time and a goal date to prepare for the change, to fire up for the shifts we plan to make.” Most importantly though, people continuing to make New Year’s resolutions even when they haven’t followed through in the past indicates a great amount of hope and belief in their ability to change for the better.