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The start of a new year is the perfect opportunity to reflect on the past year and what you achieved and to set goals for what you want to achieve or change for the new year.

The tradition of New Years’ resolutions goes back many years. The Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts. The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named. Some Christians celebrate watchnight service held on New Years’ Eve. This gives them the opportunity to review the year that has passed and make confession and then prepare for the new year ahead by praying and resolving. There are also many other religious parallels to the tradition of making New Years’ resolutions.

Some of the most popular goals for New Years’ resolutions include:

  • Physical Well-Being (eating better/healthy, lose weight, exercise more, drink less alcohol and quit smoking)
  • Mental Well-Being (think positive, laugh more and enjoy life)
  • Finances (get out of debt; save money)
  • Career (get a better job; start a new business)
  • Education (improve grades, go back to school and read more)
  • Self-Improvement (get organized, reduce stress, and time management)
  • Volunteer (help others; give to charity)
  • Relationships (spend more time with family/friends; get engaged/married)
  • Spirituality (pray more; be closer to God)

As many people enter the new year with great expectations pertaining to their resolutions, many fall short. According to a 2002 study, 1 in 3 Americans make New Years’ resolutions. Out of those, 75% stick to their goals for at least a week and 46% are still on target six months later.

A study commissioned by finder.com.au in 2014, found that 2 in 3 people (62%) didn’t succeed with their resolutions. Out of those who did achieve their goal, 3 in 4 participants (76%) believed that sharing helped them reach those goals. The most common reason for failing was setting unrealisitic goals (38%). Thirty-three percent didn’t keep track of their progress and twenty-three percent forgot about it. About 1 in 10 respondents claimed they made too many.

Tips On How to Keep Your New Years’ Resolutions

  • Don’t Overload Yourself: be realistic and don’t set too many goals
  • Share Your Goals: this helps you to be accountable, helps you committ to the them and creates a support system
  • Keep Track: Use this interactive tool to help (http://www.finder.com.au/widgets/nyr/
  • Set Small Goals Throughout the Year: most goals need small steps to reach one big end goal

According to a 2007 survey conducted by British psychologist Richard Wisenan, eighty-eight percent of New Years’ resolutions end in failure. “Bad habits are hard to break and impossible to break if we try to break them all at once”. He attributes these failures to the brain, not our lack of willpower (read this article).

So, as we near the end of January, whether you are still on track with your resolution or not, just remember that improving oneself shouldn’t just be a short-term goal made once a year but one that we continue to strive for every day of our lives throughout our entire lives.