Another big day in the festive season is New Year’s Eve, where everyone gets wasted and pretends to believe in the New Year, New Me, philosophy. Not that there’s nothing wrong with having a good time or with wanting to improve yourself. It’s just that New Year’s resolutions are more likely to fail than succeed. So what can be done to beat those odds?
History Of The New Year Resolution
According to the History channel, the ancient Babylonians were meant to have been the first people to make New Year’s resolutions over 4,000 years ago. Although they celebrated their New Year in March when they planted their crops. The Babylonians would hold a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, where they’d reaffirm their loyalty to the reigning king or crown a new one.
They’d also make promises to their gods to pay their debts and return anything they’d borrowed. Keeping these promises to their gods would grant them favourable treatment from them, or punishment if they don’t keep to their word.
How did New Year’s Eve move to the date we know it to be? First, let’s look at how January became important. In an article created for the Washington Post about New Year’s resolutions, the month of January is named after the Roman god Janus. Janus was a god with two faces: one facing forward and one facing back, which symbolised the god’s ability to look both forward and backwards at the same time.
Then, in 153 B.C., the Roman Senate declared that the new year would begin on the 1st of January. Although it wasn’t until Julius Caesar became emperor in 49 B.C. that the calendar was moved so that January falls where it does today. To make this happen, Caesar let the previous year continue for 445 days.
The tradition of making New Year’s resolutions on the 1st of January started during Caesar’s reign. However, their New Year’s resolutions were of a moral nature, such as being kind to others, rather than the self-improvement ones we tend to make nowadays.
New Year’s Eve And Me
For me, New Year’s Eve was the only holiday that mattered. I didn’t care about Christmas and was more than happy to work on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day. It was all about New Year’s Eve for me.
Weirdly, even though I lived for New Year’s Eve, I’d often have no one to enjoy the New Year’s Eve kiss with when the bell rang at midnight. Which kinda made my relationship with New Year’s Eve a double-edged sword. Because watching happy couples and people who’ve pulled, kiss, is kinda depressing.
New Year’s Eve is often the biggest collective party you’ll attend all year. Almost everyone and their dog will be out drinking far more than they should be. All to bring in the new year and celebrate the Earth successfully completing another orbit of our Sun. This was often the one night a year when everyone seems to be nicer to strangers, and I liked that.
However, in my entire life, I can count on one hand how many New Year’s resolutions I’ve made. Almost all those resolutions were made when I was still living with my mum as a child. So it’s not something I’ve really done as an adult. In my experience, people make these resolutions, but then never, and I mean NEVER, succeed in achieving them.
The Downsides Of Making New Year’s Resolutions
New Year’s resolutions are basically where we set ourselves up to fail, which can affect our self-esteem and our sense of self-worth. According to Business Insider, 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February, so why start off your year by failing the first thing you promise to do?
80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February - Business Insider Click To Tweet
Here’s a list of some of the possible downsides to making New Year’s resolutions:
- You’re starting off your new year by thinking about your weaknesses and the things you don’t like about yourself.
- It reinforces the idea that you should wait until New Year’s Eve to make positive changes in yourself.
- Making broad New Year’s resolutions rather than specific ones will doom you to failure.
- If you were really interested in changing, you wouldn’t wait until New Year’s Eve in order to do so.
- Last New Year’s resolution failures will decrease the likelihood that you’ll succeed in any future ones you want to make.
- If you’re waiting until New Year’s Eve to make a change, you probably don’t want to change.
- You only sort of want to make a change if you’re putting it off to New Year’s Eve.
- Creating unrealistic and broad New Year’s resolutions will set you up for failure.
- You know you don’t really intend to make that change just yet if you’re waiting for New Year’s Eve. It’s merely the first step down a long road towards the change you’re not quite ready to make.
- If you’re making a New Year’s resolution due to comments or pressure from someone else, you’ll be less motivated to try to succeed, and you’ll be even more affected when you fail.
Improving New Year Resolution Outcomes
New Year’s Eve is the time of year when we make resolutions to make life changes, which are doomed to fail. So what can you do to improve those odds?
You can try the following:
- If you want to give your New Year’s resolutions a chance of succeeding, then set goals rather than making resolutions.
- Making your New Year’s resolutions specific, rather than broad. The more specific they are, the easier it is to work towards.
- Creating realistic and relevant New Year’s resolutions. By making them more realistic and relevant, you’re giving yourself a better chance at succeeding with your New Year’s resolutions. This will boost your self-esteem and your willingness to make further improvements in the future.
- Add a time frame to your New Year’s resolutions, so that they’re time-bound. This will make it hard for you to keep putting off taking action on your New Year’s resolutions. Otherwise, you’ve given yourself an entire year to procrastinate over it.
- Break up your New Year’s resolution into smaller bite-size chunks. This will allow you to get a self-esteem boost as you complete each New Year’s resolution chunk you’ve created, which will help motivate you to tackle the next one in the list of your desired change.
- Look at your past attempts to make changes and create a list of where you went wrong and where you went right. That way, you can avoid the mistakes of the past and improve your chances of succeeding in the future.
- If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Making changes can be hard, so don’t feel disheartened if you think you’ve failed, because you’ve only failed if you give up.
- Seek support. If you want to go to the gym or start a new class, then having a buddy to go with you will increase your likelihood of doing it. Even just having someone offer words of encouragement is enough to help you reach your goals.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences with achieving your New Year’s resolutions in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.
21 thoughts on “New Year, New Me?”
This definitely gave me reason to think.
One of the reasons I have never liked resolutions is that nagging feeling of failure, or just hating myself. Encouragement to love myself the way I am is something I work towards every day, along with a set of constantly changing reminders to myself to be kinder to the people around me.
I would rather resolutions be year round, rather then made for the ‘new year’. Why not be new every day of the year?
A good thing to stride for every day. Happy Christmas
Fascinating to read the history of the New Year resolution – thanks for that! In many ways it makes sense to take stock as the year ends, to review how it went for you, and to think about what you want to achieve by this time next year. My weakness is that I can review, set goals and make resolutions, admire them, then put them away ‘on the shelf’ (physical or virtual) and forget about them! It’s not setting the goals that’s the problem, it’s taking the action that I’m bad at. I think you’re spot on about breaking them into chunks and actually planning to act on those chunks, week by week, day by day. That’s my resolution for next year – plan, down to a micro level, take action and review. Great to have your ‘downsides’ list next to me so that I take care to avoid those temptations!
I hope you have better success with sticking to your New Year’s resolutions, through the use of creating a step by step approach. Happy Christmas
Happy New Year to you and everyone that reads this blog. I just hang out on my own on New Year’s even just try to be a better person everyday without making any kind of resolutions for a new year a new decade. I just figure if I just try everyday and every day is a new day to be the best you can be and hopefully the chips fall where they will.
Happy Christmas and happy New Year to you too
It is interesting to learn about the history of NY Resolutions. I like the idea of a new start, no matter what it is for. I agree with some of the downsides – especially with having to wait until a new year to change. You can do that anytime TBH. Love the tips!
Thanks. I hope you had a great Christmas and have an even better New Year
I’ve never thought of the downsides to resolutions until I’ve read this post to be honest I’ve never been one for setting resolutions anyway. Great post !!
I’ve never bothered with resolutions either. Hope you have a great New Year
And you !! ?
Interesting read. I stopped making New Year’s resolutions a long time ago, about the same time I realized that a diet started on Monday will probably finish by Wednesday.
I liked the idea of breaking a goal into smaller size pieces, that’s a good way of feeling that you are getting somewhere.
A Happy New Year!
Happy New Year to you too
I know of so many people who always say New Year, New Me and kind of use it as a reset and on one hand if it works then go right ahead, but we don’t need to wait for the new year for that special reset! Love this crash course on the origins of making new years resolutions – so in the beginning of time they were more of a reiteration to always be kind to others rather than changing/self improvement like is per usual now! New Years resolutions are great, but can also seem a bit out of reach/too much of a change so soon which is why most tend to give them up a few months/weeks after New Years. Great post!
I don’t think I’ve ever met someone who ha actually successfully followed through on their New Year’s resolution
I agree with this, there is nothing worse that starting a new year with a heavy resolution. A small positive and achievable tweak is the way for me, or just being!
Certainly a better a option. Happy New Year
This was a great post! I loved learning about the history of New Year’s resolutions. I didn’t know they stretched back that far in time! And I myself have never been able to keep a resolution for all of the reasons you’ve described. Maybe it was the wrong goal or I just didn’t WANT to take the effort into doing it, but I always lost interest or gave up early in the year. But I loved your ways of working around that and making your goals achievable. And I totally agree that you shouldn’t wait until New Year’s Day to start your resolution. My “resolution” aka my new goal, I came up with and started a few months back when I was pushed to the edge and needed a change. So mine is more of a new way of thinking, but I’ve decided it’s my new goal and I’m aiming to keep it because I think it could really help me. I’ll definitely be using your tips to keep it!
Happy New Year!!
Emily | https://www.thatweirdgirllife.com
Good luck with sticking to your new way of thinking, and happy New Year ?
Do you know what? You’ve absolutely hit the nail on the head with this post. If people really did want to make a massive change, they wouldn’t wait for New Year.
I have consistently made and broken new year resolutions for about 25 years now, and you’re right, I haven’t kept one of them.
This year the only one I made was to have more fun. With my children hitting 19, 18, 11 and 9 this year, I suddenly realised that they are all growing up faster than I can keep up with, and they don’t care if the washing is up to date, but they will care about what fun things we’ve done together.
I feel good about this one, I think I’ll keep it 🙂
I’m sure this particular resolution/goal you’ll actually stick to