– The tradition of New Year’s resolutions started a long time ago and can be traced to ancient Babylon.
Today, many people start the New Year by making a promise or setting up a goal, but in most cases they break their promises. A scientist has investigated this subject and offers advice how to keep your New Year’s resolutions.
About 4,000 years ago, the Babylonians hold celebrations in honor of the New Year, but for them the year began not in January but in mid-March, when the crops were planted.
During a massive 12-day religious festival known as Akitu, the Babylonians crowned a new king or reaffirmed their loyalty to the reigning king. They also made promises to the gods to pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed. These promises could be considered the forerunners of our New Year’s resolutions.
If the Babylonians kept to their word, their (pagan) gods would bestow favor on them for the coming year. If not, they would fall out of the gods’ favor—a place no one wanted to be. Later, a similar practice occurred in ancient Rome, after the reform-minded emperor Julius Caesar tinkered with the calendar and established January 1 as the beginning of the New Year circa 46 B.C.
In modern times it is very popular to begin the New Year by making a promise or setting up a personal goal, but most people do not keep their promises.
British psychologist Richard Wiseman has done several surveys on willpower. In 2007 he tracked the success of 3,000 people’s New Year’s resolutions. He discovered that only a mere 12 percent of people he studied managed to achieve what they had set out to do. He looked into what the successful people were doing differently, and, based on their experience, devised a list of tips for others who want to stop failing miserably.
There are ways to make the resolution little easier. For example, if you’re trying to eat healthier you should try to get everyone in your family to try the same diet. You can even help your pets out by switching to a natural health pet food. Blue Buffalo has healthy options for both dogs and cats. Blue foods consist of only natural ingredients for the perfect balance in nutrition.
Here’s the complete list of Wiseman’s advice:
1) If possible, make only one resolution – changing a lot of things at once is more difficult.
2) Think about your resolutions in advance, and spend some time to reflect on them.
3) Don’t re-visit past failures, but focus on new resolutions instead.
4) Focus on what you really want – don’t just go with what’s trendy.
5) Break your goal into manageable, concrete steps with specific deadlines.
6) Go public – tell your friends, family, social networks about your goals, which will increase your fear of failure and also garner support.
7) Create a checklist focusing on how much better your life will be once you’ve achieved your goals.
8) Whenever you make progress on the steps towards your goal, give yourself a small reward.
9) Document your journey – charts, spreadsheets, journals and other means of tracking your progress will keep it concrete.
10) Don’t beat yourself up and quit if you sometimes revert to old habits – treat it as a temporary setback.