There are many traditions and practices celebrated around the world for ringing in the new year. Whether it’s eating 12 grapes under the table at midnight in Spain, smashing dishes in Denmark, or banging walls with bread in Ireland, there is one tradition that has been practiced worldwide for two centuries – making a New Year’s resolution.
In the 18th century, during New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day mass, individuals would “reflect on the past year and make resolutions to do better in the year ahead.” In 1813, a Boston newspaper published the first recorded use of the phrase ‘New Year resolution’” (2022). Today, resolutions are rooted in spiritual, personal, professional and other avenues of development. While many people create New Year’s resolutions, not all follow through with them. “At the start of 2022, 23% of people resolved to live healthier, while 21% were focused on personal improvement and happiness, and 20% resolved to lose weight. However, of the 41% of Americans who made New Year’s resolutions, only 9% followed through on them” (2022).
So, how can you make a New Year’s resolution and stick to it? Here are some tips for following through on your resolution that can lead to a happier and healthier year ahead.
- Take Time to Think and Pick Your Resolution(s)
It’s important to pick a goal that’s achievable and specific. Pick one or two that you feel confident about. When you pick too many or ones that are not specific, it’s easier not to follow through. One way to ensure an achievable and specific resolution is to use a writing prompt like “This year I will focus on…”, “This year I will practice _____ and learn _____”, “My physical health and wellness goal is to exercise ____ times a week.”
- Be Specific with Your Goals
Instead of just saying “I want to be healthier,” write down how you are going to achieve that and set specific goals. If you want to be healthier, say “I will exercise twice a week, focus on adding nutritious foods to my meals, and by March I want to have lost 15 pounds.” Being specific when setting goals is a great way to keep yourself honest and accountable.
- Identify Accountability Partners
Use a friend, significant other, guardian, or someone close to you to be your accountability partner. When you both make resolutions, it’s important to stick together and keep one another on track. Schedule a monthly coffee chat or movie night where you can talk about your resolutions and your progress.
- Give it Time to Become a Habit
Change doesn’t happen overnight. Did you know that on average, it can take more than two months before a new behavior becomes a habit? Practice your resolution daily and don’t give up, give it time to become a regular practice in your routine.
- Keep Track
Use a journal or habit tracker application on your smartphone to track your progress. It can be very rewarding to see how far you’ve come and how you’ve turned a resolution into reality.
The Center for Health & Wellbeing hosts free or low-cost Community Education programs focused on nutrition, fitness, emotional wellbeing, and other Dimensions of Wellbeing that can assist in supporting your New Year’s resolution. Learn more about the many wellbeing offerings at CHWB here.