New Year's Resolutions: The History, Truth & Stats

The tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions goes back thousands of years. Back in the day it looked a little different, but the sentiment was the same. There’s something about a new year that inspires people. It's like a new beginning. But who started the tradition and why?

The History of New Year’s Resolutions

The story goes that some 4,000 years ago ancient Babylonians were the first to adopt the custom. It makes sense as they are also reputed to be the first to celebrate the New Year. For them, the year started in mid-March to coincide with the planting of crops. They held a 12-day religious festival called Akitu during which they made vows to their deities to pay their debts and return borrowed objects. These vows are akin to the New Year’s resolutions we make today!

The Truth About New Year’s Resolutions

Though resolutions started out as a religious practice, today they are primarily secular. Rather than make promises to the gods, we make promises to ourselves. New Year’s resolutions these days are mostly about self-improvement. That being said, very few of us actually follow through on our promises.

New Year’s Resolutions Statistics

Studies show that while almost 45% of people report that they make New Year’s resolutions, a mere 8% achieve their goals. Not only that, 80% of people who make resolutions drop them by mid-February. It doesn’t matter whether the goal is big or small either. People setting out to make a major life change fail at the same rate as people who intend to make a minor change! The question is, why?

Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Stick & How to Make One that Will

The problem with resolutions is simple. They’re all talk and no action. In other words, a resolution doesn’t mean much unless you also make a concrete plan. Most people don’t succeed because they are just wishing and hoping that their resolutions will come true. Without a real plan, their chances of success are slim to none.

If you want your resolution to come true, the first thing you should do is make a plan! Come up with real, actionable steps that you can take every day to get closer to your goal. Think of what needs to happen for you to reach it. Do that, and your odds of success will skyrocket. Your resolution won’t just be wishful thinking, rather it will become a concrete destination.

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