Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Making New Year's Resolutions

Initially, everyone is excited
We all have goals and certain aspirations we wish to achieve.  We want to lose weight, we want to spend st.   Everyone gets a new year, and a new take on life to try and change some aspect of their lives.  We call these goals New Year’s Resolutions and according to the University Of Scranton Journal Of Psychology, about 45% of people make some form of resolution.
One week later, however...
less money, or we want to stop procrastinating.  We make these little goals for ourselves year round.  However, once a year everyone gets a fresh start on January 1

Being a history major, I enjoy researching and finding the backstories for why we do some of the things we do.  For those of you who are interested, the history of New Year’s Resolutions are quite interesting.  Surprisingly, the practice has religious origins. The early Babylonians would celebrate the holiday in March by making promises to their gods to return borrowed items and money to the lenders in order to begin each new year with a new slate. 

Later, the Romans would shift the celebration to January, named after the Roman god Janus, a two faced god who reflected on the previous year and looked into the upcoming year.  For the Roman’s, resolutions functioned as a moral influence to convince people to be good to each other.  This is where our modern practice of resolution setting comes from.  Of course, the subject of our resolutions have changed over the years, but the practice has remained relatively constant.  There are some additional events in the history of New Year’s Resolutions, and if you are interested in them, you will find them here.

According to the same psychology study referenced earlier, the top 10 resolutions in the US are as follows:
                10: Spend more time with family
                9: Fall in love
                8: Help others in their dreams
                7: Quit smoking
                6: Learn something exciting
                5: Get fit and healthy
                4: Enjoy life to the fullest
                3: Spend less and save more
                2: Get organized
                1: Lose weight

As you can see, most of our resolutions focus on some form of self-improvement.  47% of resolutions are self-improvement related, 38% are weight related, 34% deal with money problems, and the remaining 31% are usually associated with relationship problems. 

Unfortunately, very few resolutions see success.  75% of people maintain their resolution through the first week.  After two weeks, that number has gone down to 71%.  After one month, only 64% have stuck with their resolution.  After six months, only 46% have stuck with their resolution.  So, of the 45% of US citizens who make resolutions (approximately 142 million people), only 46% (approximately 6 million) actually make it 6 months.  After 6 months, the number continues to decline exponentially.    

Many people fail to successfully implement their resolutions longer than a month.  Why does this happen?  There are a plethora of factors.  The most common is laziness.  The most common resolution, to lose weight, requires a certain level of dedication that most people are unwilling to maintain.  Losing weight requires strict monitoring of one’s diet coupled with a certain schedule of physical fitness that many people just get tired of sticking to.  Many people “don’t have time” to go to the gym every day, or they do not have the time to plan a diet or make their own healthy food.  It is much easier to go get a cheeseburger at McDonald’s than it is to wake up early and plan your meals for the day.

There are a couple of guidelines you should follow if you want to succeed in implementing your resolution.  The most important is simply to establish a routine. You have to continue to push even when your body is telling you that it is hard and reverting back to your old ways would be easier.  After a week or two, your body will begin to normalize again and you will no longer get annoyed at some of the extra steps you take, but will consider them a necessity.

Another important step is to think as if your resolution has been the way you have always done it.  Block out the memories of whatever habit you wish to break, and embrace the resolution as a way of life.  This way you can try and convince yourself that your new schedule is the way that it’s always been done.

Personally, my New Year’s Resolutions always deal with organizing my life so it is not such a mess.  This will likely be mine once again this year, as my desk at home has just become a giant stack of papers and books and folders. 

What resolutions do you like to make? Do have you any suggestions for how to maintain your resolution? Do you have any suggestions for how I could maintain my organization resolution? Let me know in the comments section!

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