New Year's Resolutions - What’s the Hype?

It’s the time of year to start thinking about your New Year’s resolution. Maybe you want to get better grades next year, hit the gym a little more, or make more time for yourself. Whatever it is, I’m sure someone has asked you at least once if you have one. According to a 2015 Ipsos poll, about a third of Canadians make New Year’s resolutions, and 73 per cent of that group will break them. So what’s with the hype? Do New Year’s resolutions really make a difference, or is it fine to skip the age-old tradition?

How important is it to you?

Personally, I love New Years Eve and the fresh start of a new year. The excitement that comes with the countdown, knowing that a year is ending and a new beginning is starting makes me feel so inspired. I think it’s the perfect time to reflect on the last year and look at how to improve for the next, while starting on the right foot. I’m all for self-improvement, in whatever context, and at whatever point in the year, so if the New Year is the perfect start for you too, I don’t see anything wrong with a creating goal or aspiration here and there. 

However, I know there are people who don’t feel the same way and who think that every day you should make new resolutions and goals, not just for the New Year. The idea of picking a resolution to stick to or accomplish within a year can be pretty daunting too. Romanticizing a New Year’s resolution that will change your life is also an issue I can see with the idea. It’s built up to be perceived as something you really should do, and something that will improve your life drastically. These ideas are unfair, and I can see where the hype of the tradition can lead to disappointment.

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A little history

According to TeenVogue, New Year’s Resolutions originated about 4,000 years ago during an ancient Babylonian festival. During the festival the Babylonians would “celebrate the rebirth of the natural world.” They would have multiple rituals to celebrate, including planting crops, make promises to their gods, and crowning a new king. The Babylonians believed that if they kept their promises to their gods that they would stay on their good side. Then boom, New Year’s resolutions were born. 

The middle ages had a New Year’s resolution tradition too, with knights renewing their chivalry vows by placing their hand on a peacock. The “Peacock Vow” happened at the end of each year and was an early take on the tradition.

The new “modern” take on New Year’s resolutions started in the 19th century. The term was first officially coined in a Boston newspaper in 1813. 

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If you decide to make a New Year’s resolution

There have been years where I’ve made New Year’s resolutions and stuck to them, and other years where a few months in they have faded away. I think it depends on how attainable the goal is, especially in the time frame of a year. Chances are, you’re not going to learn to fly a plane in a year. If you decide to make a resolution, make sure it’s something you think you can achieve! Either way, even if you don’t stick to the goal, trying is always better than not trying at all.

If you choose to skip a New Year’s Resolution

Not having a New Year’s resolution isn’t a big deal! You won’t have any FOMO (fear of missing out) and as long as you’re not attached to the idea of one, then it’s no worries. You can make goals every day instead of one big one for the year, or create none at all. You can also always start a New Year’s resolution at another point in the year. Self-improvement is on your own schedule, and at your own pace. 

So whatever you decide, it’s up to you. New Year’s resolutions are sometimes an overrated holiday tradition that doesn’t amount to much, or they can be a great excuse for self-improvement. You decide.

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