A new year symbolises the start of a new beginning in this ongoing story that is life.
We come up with new ideas for reinventing ourselves, striving towards a better ‘us’ and so we introduced the New Year’s resolution. A New Year’s resolution is when one makes a firm decision on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day to do or refrain from doing something over the course of the coming year, it is a way of improving life.
But for some of us, a new year just means another year of banality…
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.
In the Medieval era, the Knights took the “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season each year to reaffirm their commitment to chivalry.
Why is it so hard to fulfil a new year’s resolution?
A 2007 study conducted by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set new year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning.
Men achieved their goal 22% more often when they engaged in goal setting, while women succeeded 10% more when they made their goals public and got support from their friends.
The most common reason for participants failing is because 35% of us set unrealistic goals. While 33% of us don’t keep track of our progress and a further 23% forget about it. About one in 10 claims they make too many resolutions.
We ask nine South African millennials why they think New Year’s resolutions never work:
1. Jamie Williams, 17
I think the reason why we don’t achieve our New Year’s resolutions is because we give ourselves too many things to do ‘right’ for the new year and so we end up doing nothing.
2. Darren Edwards, 26
I personally think it’s because we drink too much and when it’s time to make that change we forget.
3. Timothy Edwards, 25
We only make these resolutions to follow and fall in with the crowd.
4. Chelsea Barnes, 21
You have already created literally HUNDREDS of habits that you have now, and you don’t even remember how they got started. So how do you let go of them?
5. Kauthar Karriem, 19
We wait until New Year’s Eve to make resolutions and it is too short notice for the mind to work things out and put the plan into action.
6. Ashurah Isaacs, 20
It is because we follow what our friends and family do and therefore it is impossible to complete a resolution. Our minds are simply not there.
7. Ameer Noordien, 18
It’s so simple. As human beings we simply give ourselves too much to do, especially trying to get rid of habits. Once you try to get rid of it then it becomes hard so you just leave it all and continue to be your old self.
8. Feloosh Baardman, 19
To me, it’s all about the willpower and that is something most people lack.
9. Imraan Van Nelson, 24
We want to achieve so many things. We want to quit smoking and start eating right in the same month. Our brains will never allow us to overwork, so we end up just carrying on with our lives as we normally do.
Top five most common goals for a New Year’s resolution:
1. Improve physical well-being: eat healthy food, lose weight, exercise more, eat better, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, stop biting your fingernails, get rid of old bad habits.
2. Volunteer to help others, practice life skills, use civic virtue, give to charity, volunteer to work part-time in a charity organization.
3. Get along better with people, improve social skills, enhance social intelligence.
4. Pray more, be closer to God, be more spiritual.
5. Spend less time on social media (such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.)
5 ways to stick to your New Year’s resolution, according to Richard Wiseman:
1. Make only one resolution, your chances of success are greater when you channel energy into changing just one aspect of your behaviour.
2. Don’t run with the crowd and go with the usual resolutions. Instead, think about what you really want out of life.
3. Regularly remind yourself of the benefits associated with achieving your goals by creating a checklist of how life would be better once you obtain your aim.
4. Expect to revert to your old habits from time to time. Treat any failure as a temporary setback rather than a reason to give up altogether.
5. Avoid previous resolutions; deciding to revisit a past resolution sets you up for frustration and disappointment.
It’s a simple mind over matter situation. Have you got the willpower to leave behind the ‘old’ you?