The Problem with New Year’s Resolutions

The Problem with New Year's Resolutions

At the beginning of each new year,  many people embark on a sort of “journey” to change their habits and create a better lifestyle.  These changes are a result of goals made at the the start of the year, otherwise known as New Year’s resolutions. While many people set a New Year’s resolution, only a very small number of them are able to keep the resolution until the end of the year.

The history of New Year’s resolutions dates back to over 4,000 years ago. According to, ancient Babylonians were the first people to set a goal for the new year, though theirs began in March rather than January. These goals were made as a part of a religious festival, and were promises to the gods. After this, the Romans created similar practices, which took place in January. Like the Babylonians, the Romans made promises to the gods which usually involved ideas of “good conduct.” Around the 1700s, Christians began to view the new year as a time to reflect on the past 365 days, which eventually led to the creation of New Year’s resolutions. While they were originally made as promises to God, most people now use New Year’s resolutions as promises to themselves.

The idea of using the new year as a way to better oneself seems like a good idea in theory, but most people don’t even keep their goal through February. According to U.S. News, 80% of people have broken their New Year’s resolution by only the second week of February. For the people that do make it past the first month, it is unlikely that they will be able uphold their goals to the end of the year. Less than 8% of people have kept their resolution by the end of December.

There has to be a reason for this lack of determination in keeping minor goals, right? According to Business Insider, the reason many people are unable to keep their New Year’s resolutions is because people often choose major life changes, rather than smaller and more achievable goals. The two most common resolutions involve becoming healthier, and saving money. These both require an enormous amount of dedication, and effort, which can be difficult after the holidays. For this reason alone, it is better to set resolutions that are smaller, as they will be easier to achieve and uphold throughout the year.

Another aspect of New Year’s resolutions includes the phrase, “new year, new me.” While the exact history of the phrase is unknown, it seems to have become more popular around the time in which the popularity of social media began to rise. Audrey Engel, a sophomore at Adams, described the the phrase as “ludicrous.” When asked to explain she stated: “Just because it’s a new year, doesn’t mean anything has changed. If you’re trying to become a better person, there’s no reason to wait, do it whenever you want.”

New Year’s resolutions have had a long history in society, which is probably the reason for their popularity, but there’s clearly an issue with the practice, if only 8% of people keep their resolutions. The idea of creating a major life change just because it’s a new year is impractical. Major life changes don’t just happen because it’s a new year, and the close proximity to the holidays can make it even more difficult. Anna Guzik, another sophomore, sums up the problem with New Year’s resolutions by stating: “You don’t become a new person when the year changes. It’s not practical to schedule change, just because it’s January 1st. There’s always time to improve, and there’s no reason to wait until the next year.”