New year, new resolutions

Precisely the day after Christmas, stores across America wipe out their wintery collection of sweaters and coats and move the fitness section to the front of the store and display swimwear on the mannequins. While we are still polishing off those cookie tins and leftovers, commercialism is ready and waiting for us with the next season. Why? The New Year is rapidly approaching, which means it’s time for New Year’s Resolutions. Or, rather, vague ideas about losing weight and eating more vegetables.

Apparently, only around 40 percent of Americans participate in creating new year’s resolutions, yet it still manages to be a focal point of every new year. Resolutions allow us to self-reflect and self-improve just as the start of a new calendar year allow us to refresh and rejuvenate our lives.

From losing weight to eating healthy to staying positive, most often our resolutions are lofty goals we abandon mid-January. At least we tried, right? 

But where exactly does the whole resolution thing come from? The concept has always been focused on self-improvement and reflection, yet it’s been around for almost as long as people have been celebrating the New Year. The Babylonians promised their gods they would return borrowed objects and pay debts. The Romans began the year by making promises to god Janus, for whom the month January is named after. Christians would participate in watchnight services, where they prepare for the upcoming year by praying on New Year’s Eve and creating resolutions.

According to a 2014 study commissioned by Australian website finder.com, 42 percent of participants formed a resolution, yet 62 percent of those participants did not succeed with their resolutions. 35 percent of those who failed said they set too unrealistic goals for themselves. Other reasons for not succeeding included not keeping track of one’s progress, forgetting about resolutions or setting too many resolutions. However, of those who succeeded, participants said sharing their goals with others helped them to succeed. I guess posting pictures of food or gym shoes really do have some purpose.

Perhaps we have do really short attention spans. After two weeks of preparing salads and Instagramming them with the hashtag, #NewYearNewYou, we get bored. Mostly because eating salad is a big commitment.

No matter why you’re writing a new year’s resolution, or if it’s a lofty goal or a well-thought SMART goal, the start of a new year is still the promise of a new beginning. Even if you think resolutions are a little tacky, or a little too much effort, remember that always striving toward a better version of yourself is a good thing. Even if you aren’t using a hashtag. May 2015 bring us all the prosperity and happiness that we could ever hope for.

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