Why do we have New Years resolutions? The history and tips to keep your promisses!

2015“As soon as the clock struck twelve midnight, and 2015 took the place of good ol’ 2014, everybody started cheering and whishing each other a happy new year. Fireworks followed, champagne was poured and people started asking each other what their new years resolutions were. One said he would eat healthier, another agreed adding she would be sporting all year long, another would find a better job, another would live life happier. And ofcourse there was the typical rebel of the party who didn’t believe in resolutions because it was just another social hype.”

Does this scenario sound familiar? I’m guessing you too have a list of new years resolutions. And I bet half of them are the same as last year, only otherwise formulated. There is no shame in that, I have one too. So does my boyfriend, my best friend, my brother, my neigbour, the sales assistant in the local supermarket and so many more.

But where did it all start? How has it become a tradition, each year to form new resolutions for ourselves?

Today I’ll take you back in time, to where it all began.

A little about New Years

In order to have New Years resolutions, you must have a New Year.

New Years wasn’t always celebrated on Januari 1. In fact, 4,000 years ago, the Babylonians celebrated their new year during the spring equinox, an 11-day celebration called Akitu and ancient Egyptians celebrated the advent of their new calendar during the Nile River’s annual flood.

In 46 BC Julius Caesar came up with a calendar that was synced to the sun (solar) instead of the moon (lunar) moving their new years celebration from March 1 to Januari 1. This was done in honor of the Roman god of beginnings, Janus, after whome the month Januari was named.

This took time to catch on and in the meantime there were alot of different dates celebrating new years throughout the years, following different rituals.

Finally, in 1582, Pope Gregory XIII came up with the Gregorian calendar which we follow now, bringing back new years celebration on January 1.

Despite this there are still different new years celebrations. Some people still follow the lunar calendar, celebrating new years on different dates each year. The jewish Rosh Hashanah and islamic calendar Muharram are both celebrated in the fall, and Chinese New Years is celebrated end Januari/begin Februari, on different dates each year, and lasts a month!

But what about those New Year resolutions?

The origin of making New Year’s resolutions rests with the Babylonians, who made promises to the gods at the start of each new year to return borrowed objects, or pay their debts.

After that, the Romans started each year making promisses to the god Janus, in the Medieval era knights re-affirmed their commitment to chivalry and later on Christians spent a great deal of time preparing their new years resolutions before the new year.

Another, more religious approach, is the jewish tradition of atonement, during Yom Kipur, where one is to reflect upon one’s wrongdoings over the year and seek (and offer) forgiveness.

Self-improvement

It basically all comes down to the annual reflection on self-improvement.
We have the need to improve ourselves, to set rules upon ourselves in order to better ourselves, and what better time to start than the beginning of the new year.

Tips

Studies have shown that, however positive we may be on New Years that our resolutions wil succeed, 88% of those who set resolutions, fail.

Therefore I have some tips for you to help you fulfill your resolutions!

1. Start with a few, sometimes less is more. Don’t waste your energy trying to achieve 10 resolutions all at once, for in the end you will end up having achieved none. Think of 2 or 3 and put your energy in those.

2. Voice your resolutions. If you keep your resolutions to yourself, you are only accountable to yourself. Once you involve others, you will want to work harder for those resolutions, to show others that you have achieved them.

3. Be realistic. Set manageable goals, goals that you are able to achieve in a period of a year

4. Set specific goals. Instead of saying ‘I’m going to lose weight this year” , change it to ‘ I’m going to lose 5 kilo until March 1″ . This will motivate you to start with your goal early, and you will know exactly what it is you want to achieve.

5. Be consious. If your goals is to lose weight, write down everything you eat and weigh yourself on a regular basis. If your goals is to save money, write down your income and expenses. This way you will be more consious of what you are doing and it will make it easier to achieve your goal.

6. Take your time, but be active. There is nothing wrong with taking your time to work on a resolution. Some take much more time that others. But stay active and don’t make that fact an excuse for doing nothing.

7. Social support. Some resolutions can be harder that others, such as overcoming a smoking or drinking habit. In those cases, be aware of the downfall, and don’t be afraid to turn to your social circle when things might not go the way you want them.

8. Acceptance. Accept the fact that some of your resolutions may not be done by the end of the year. This is no reason to give up and not work for it at all. Any progress counts, and is better than no progress!

I have this post was interesting and helpful for you! I wonder, what are your New Years resolutions?

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