Even though declaring that with the start of the new year you will change your lifestyle for the better, this tradition is not entirely new, because new year resolutions appeared almost 4.000 years ago. These types of declarations have been seen across multiple civilizations and cultures throughout human history.
The first resolutions were carried out by the Babylonians who promised their gods that with the start of the new year, they will pay their debts, change their lifestyle and return borrowed items. This tradition eventually got picked up by the Romans, adding new types of resolutions catered more to their culture and civilization.
From the Romans, the concept of making new year resolutions have reached the modern era without any major alterations, besides the promises made to various gods that were changed to better suit our current religious beliefs.
True, Romans and Babylonians did not have the problems we are currently facing today, but the idea remains more or less the same. With the start of the new year, humans feel the need to change accordingly, leaving behind old habits that are deemed unsatisfactory or affect their health in order to adopt new lifestyles.
According to scientists, researchers and psychologists, over 50% of the global population partakes in creating individual new year resolutions. Unfortunately, we cannot exactly know how many of them fail, but by simply looking around us, we can discern that most of these promises are destined to eventually fail due to a variety of factors.
One problem when creating the resolution is the constant use of the verb “try”. Even though this might seem as just a choice of words, its psychological implications are much more impactful than originally thought. The saying “don’t try, just do it” shows exactly how this process works. By saying that you will try to quit smoking, for instance, you are already setting yourself up for failure, because you already consider the goal more or less unattainable.
The idea of setting one major goal on the 1st of January is a hindering factor as well, according to psychologists. Instead of doing this, people should opt to set smaller goals along the year. The extent of the switch in lifestyle is not the important matter. The concept that a lifestyle change is required is the one that is actually important, and carrying it out one step at a time will prove to be an easier goal than attempting to finish it in just one big push.
Of course, this differs from individual to individual. One way to make new year promises an easier goal is to make group resolutions. By approaching this subject as a group, not as an individual, people will always have your back in case you are tempted to fall back to old habits. By maintaining this sense of security towards achieving a set goal, the odds that you eventually quit smoking or stop eating junk food are increased exponentially.
Although new year resolutions appeared almost 4.000 years ago, they have been plagued since their inception by a low chance of eventually adhering to the promises made at the start of a new yearly cycle. Whatever goal you want to achieve in 2016, make sure that it is relatively smaller in extent, and remember to not beat yourself over the fact that you slipped from it occasionally.