The advent of New Year stirs the desire to improve their lives for many people. As such, many imagine themselves thinner, healthier, and generally happier than they were in a previous year. Psychologists agree that it is productive to set goals: attainable, self-improving, and realistic. After all, it is in a human nature to want to improve things and what is the better time than the start of a New Year? However, when did the tradition to set New Year resolutions start? And, more interestingly, what are the most popular goals people generally set for themselves?
The tradition of making New Year resolutions traces centuries back. Historical research shows that ancient Babylonians, Romans, and Greeks made New Year resolutions to help the poor, pay their debts, and be better citizens. The goals of modern people seem to be more egocentric. Generally, people resolve to do the following:
1. Improve themselves physically (lose extra weight, eat more healthily, start going to the gym, abstain from alcohol and cigarettes, etc.)
2. Improve themselves mentally (think positive things, be nicer to immediate family, laugh more, enjoy life and surrounding beauty to a full extent).
3. Improve finances and career (pay the debts, apply for a dream job, perform better at a current job, obtain the long-sought promotion, or establish own business).
4. Get better education (develop a new hobby, learn a foreign language, start reading more, get a college degree, take some classes at a local college).
5. Volunteer (donate their time and effort to a worthwhile cause, help those in need, and get involved into community).
6. Improve themselves socially (meet new people, make a new friend, become active socially, travel).
7. Improve themselves spiritually (attend church more often, pray more, reflect on life).
Interestingly, recent research shows that in previous decades people were more concerned with doing good deeds for others, but nowadays people are more self-involved and mostly concentrate on themselves. Even then, most people fail to follow on their New Year resolutions; according to a study conducted by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol, as many as eighty-eight percent of people do not fulfill their resolutions, although initially fifty-two percent of people have absolute confidence in their eventual success.
However, there are ways to achieve success with New Year resolutions. For example, it helps to set them in steps—instead of generally resolving to lose extra weight; it is more productive to say “no” to a pound or two per week. More importantly, it is always easier to do things for others; it fulfills your sense of civic duty, it makes you feel better, and it makes a world a better place. Why not make this year a year to help others?
– Becky Kospanova