New Year's resolutions are nothing new. The earliest recorded instance of a similar tradition dates back to over 4,000 years ago during the Babylonian holiday Akitu, a 12 day New Year celebration. New kings would be crowned, promises made to the gods, and borrowed items returned. Breaking any promises made during Akitu would be unfavorable to their gods, and so the Babylonians were motivated to keep their resolutions running.
In 46 B.C. Julius Caesar introduced a new calendar. It declared January 1st the official start of the year, and on it Romans would offer sacrifices to their gods and promise good behavior for the upcoming year.
Knights in the middle ages would renew their chivalry vows by placing their hands on a peacock. This ‘peacock vow’ was just a resolution to maintain their knightly duties.
By the 19th century, the tradition of creating resolutions on the new year became common. The first recorded use of the phrase ‘New Year Resolution’ was published in a Boston newspaper in 1813.
By the Numbers
After splurging during the holidays, the New Year is a logical time to start getting health and wellness back on track. As a result, making resolutions is incredibly popular.
In the United States, around 40% of adults report setting resolutions. But this doesn’t always hold: research shows that 80% break their resolutions within the first month. In the end, only around 8% are successful in fully achieving what they set out to do.
To increase your odds, break down daunting goals into smaller ones. Instead of “I want to run a marathon”, set a more specific and tangible benchmark like “I want to run 4 days a week”.
Having trouble thinking of areas in your life that could use improvement? Listed below are some of the most common new year's resolutions. Give them a read and pick something to work on!
- Eat healthier
- Exercise more
- Lose weight
- Save more money and pay off debt
- Learn a new skill or hobby
- Travel more
- Watch less TV
- Read more
- Find a new job
- Volunteer with a charity
- Start your own business
- Quit smoking
- Drink less alcohol
- Spend more time with family and friends
- Drink more organic cold-pressed juice